Western Sahara Worldnews
IANS | Madrid
A group of about 300 sub-Saharan migrants on Tuesday staged a mass attempt to breach the border fence between Spain and Morocco, authorities said.
The mass attempt to reach Melilla, a Spanish autonomous city on the North African mainland, early on Tuesday saw about 100 migrants succeed, while about 200 others were blocked by Spanish and Moroccan security forces, Efe news reported.
The 100 or so who managed to get over the fence were taken to a temporary immigrant processing centre.
The incident took place at the southern part of the border fence in Melilla, and saw migrants hurling rocks as efforts to reach Spanish territory turned violent, according to the authorities.
During the assault, three members of the Spanish Civil Guard were injured and several security vehicles were damaged.
The last successful mass attempt to reach Melilla was on February 6, when 18 of a group of 40 migrants made it over a fence in the same area.
By Agency Report
AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU
Senegalese policemen stand guard outside the Attijariwafa Moroccan bank during its inauguration in Dakar, Senegal, 07 July 2006. Senegalese Prime Minister Macky Sall and his Morrocan counterpart Driss Jettou attended the event.
- Shares climb to snap three days of declines in Casablanca
- Lender sees floating of dirham boosting demand for derivatives
- halted its plans to enter Nigeria and Algeria as it prioritizes the consolidation of its purchase of 100 percent of Barclays Plc’s Egypt
Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco’s biggest lender, is planning to complete expansions in East and West Africa this year as it focuses on consolidating its new acquisitions to spur growth.
Meanwhile the lender has halted its plans to enter Nigeria and Algeria as it prioritizes the consolidation of its purchase of 100 percent of Barclays Plc’s Egypt, which was completed this month as part of plans to boost growth.
The Casablanca-based bank aims to finalize a deal to buy Rwanda’s Cie Generale de Banque, known as Cogebanque, start commercial banking operations in Chad and apply for a banking license in Ghana in 2017, General Manager Ismail Douiri said in an interview in Cairo on Sunday.
Attijariwafa started its first wave of acquisitions in 2005 as it was faced with fewer opportunities to expand in Morocco. It now operates in 26 countries including Tunisia, Niger, Gabon and Cameroon, as well as France, Germany and Italy.
The bank forecasts loans and deposits will increase 5 percent to 7 percent and profits to expand between 5 percent and 10 percent in 2017. It plans to sell as much as 1.5 billion Moroccan dirhams ($152 million) of perpetual bonds to meet Basel 3 requirements.
Attijariwafa expects the planned floating of the dirham in the second half of this year to boost revenues as the subsequent volatility in the currency will create higher demand for foreign-currency derivatives products, Douiri said.
“There are risks but also opportunities,” he said.
Attijariwafa’s shares climbed 1.5 percent to 419 dirhams per share by 1:15 p.m. in Casablanca, snapping three days of declines.
By Michel Cousins
Ageela Saleh, accompanied by Libyan ambassador Abdulmajed Seif El Nasr (left), presented by Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita with a trophy to mark his visit (Photo: HoR)
The president of the House of Representatives has been warmly welcomed in the Moroccan capital Rabat which he is visiting at the invitation of the speaker of Morocco’s House of Representatives, Habib Al-Malki.
In talks with Malki, it was agreed to establish a joint parliamentary committee to strengthen relations and aid cooperation between the two countries.
Accompanied by Libyan ambassador to Rabat Abdulmajed Seif El Nasr and a small delegation, Saleh later went the Moroccan foreign ministry where he was presented a trophy to mark his visit.
According to the HoR media office, discussions with the Moroccan foreign minister, Nasser Bourita, focussed on efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis, but in accordance with the wishes of the Libyan HoR.
For its part, the Moroccan news agency, MAP, noted that Bourita called on all Libyan parties to accept the principle of consensus. It was in the interests of the Libyan people, their peace and the country’s unity, the minister said.
Also according to MAP, Ageela Saleh praised Morocco’s King Mohamed for his efforts to being about reconciliation in Libya.
Morocco hosted the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue sessions in Skhirat which resulted in the Libyan Political Agreement. Saleh, however, is not wholly in agreement with it.
For many centuries, Morocco had played a major role in the old Maritime Silk Road, connecting the major civilizations of Asia, Europe and Africa.
With the Belt and Road Initiative, Morocco is set to regain its role and contribute to the embodiment of China’s promising proposal to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in cooperation with related countries.
The North African kingdom offers a number of assets to contribute to this ambitious initiative. Morocco enjoys a long-standing history of exchange and cooperation with the countries along the old Silk Road, and China, which will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14 and 15, is on the top of them.
Morocco and China share a long history of exchanges and a long tradition of friendship. Back in the middle of the seventh century, one Chinese, named Du Huan, already travelled to Morocco. Later on, in the 13th century, Wang Dayuan of the Yuan dynasty also went as far as Morocco.
In the 14th century, Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta travelled to China and had stayed nearly three decades in the country. In the end of his travels to various countries, he wrote a book where he dedicated a whole chapter to his journey to China, narrating with great amazement the grandeur of Chinese civilization.
Despite the far geographic distance between the two countries, their exchange has never stopped. The North African kingdom was the second country (Egypt was the first one) in the continent to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1958, and bilateral cooperation progressed slowly but steadily.
In recent years, Morocco and China intensified their economic cooperation. China has become Morocco’s fourth trade partner with over 3.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. Chinese investment in Morocco increased by 195 percent and 93 percent in 2014 and 2015.
During Morocco’s King Mohammed VI’s visit to Beijing in May 2016, the two countries decided to establish China-Morocco strategic partnership, opening new chapter in the bilateral relations.
Since this historical visit, a significant increase in the exchange has taken place. Many joint ventures have been launched, including a mega project of building industrial park in the Northern city of Tangiers with 10 billion dollars investments.
In addition to the bilateral cooperation, Morocco and China reach consensus on many issues, particularly non-intervention and building mutually-beneficial South-South cooperation. In this connection, Morocco sees promising cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, especially in Africa.
“Morocco has strategic depth in West Africa, built on historical, cultural and religious relations. It can play a key role in linking (West African) countries to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and open new opportunities in the fast-growing economies of West Africa,” Morocco’s former ambassador to China, Jaafar Hakim Laalej, said in a previous interview.
The kingdom is already the top investor in West Africa and the second largest African investor in the continent.
Morocco greatly appreciates China’s continued contributions to the development of Africa.
“China’s assistance to Africa over the years has benefited the African people,” King Mohammed VI said during his visit to Beijing, adding that his country “stands ready to become China’s important cooperative partner in the African continent.”
Apart from that, Morocco enjoys strong relations with Arab and European countries.
The combination of all these factors make of Morocco a trusted partner in implementing China’s initiative. The kingdom anticipates great opportunities.
“The Belt and Road Initiative heralds a new era of cooperation that will benefit all. Morocco embraces the initiative fully and is optimistic about it,” Laalej said.
The Belt and Road Initiative will bring countless opportunities to Moroccan economy, that’s for sure, he underlined, adding that Morocco and China are committed to a strategic partnership, and the initiative will definitely boost that framework, both economically and socially.
Morocco experienced the benefits of the old Maritime Silk Road, and with its standing as a gateway in Africa, the country is looking ahead for more beneficial cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative.
The level of terror threat has been raised to four out of five and the total of 207 terrorists has been detained in the country since 2015, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry.
“Police Officers from the General Commissariat of Information of the National Police have detained in Badalona (Barcelona) and Salou (Tarragona) two men of Moroccan nationality, aged 21 and 32, for integration with a sell attached to DAESH, while, together with the National Police, Morocco’s Directorate of Surveillance of the National Territory has carried out detention in Tangier (Morocco) of the third member of the same cell,” the statement said.
The statement noted that the two men detained in Spain maintained contacts with Daesh members in Syria and Iraq, demonstrated a desire to pursue Jihad and wanted to die like martyrs. In addition, one of them was in Spain illegally.
National regulator ANRT reported that Morocco reached 16.97 million mobile internet users in March, representing an annual growth of 27.5 percent. In the same period, ADSL customers increased by 8.5 percent to reach 1.27 million.
While retaining the highest share of mobile internet users, Maroc Telecom (IAM) saw its dominance eroded with 47.5 percent of the market, down from 49.6 percent in the previous quarter and 50.9 percent a year earlier. Rivals Orange Morocco and Inwi shared the rest of subscriptions, with a market share of 26.8 and 25.7 percent respectively.
Looking at the overall mobile base, the first quarter saw a continuation of the key trends shaping the Moroccan market. Postpaid connections remained on an upward trend, accounting for 7 percent of the country’s 41.78 million mobile subscriptions, while the LTE base continued to increase at a strong pace, rising by 21 percent since December 2016 to reach 3.4 million at the end of March.
by Ehab Farouk
(Corrects book value year in paragraph 4 to 2016, not 2017)
CAIRO May 7 (Reuters) – Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank paid twice book value to acquire Barclays’ Egyptian business and hopes the acquisition will enable it to increase its market share in Egypt to 5 percent within five years, the Moroccan bank’s CEO said.
The bank plans to rename the unit Attijariwafa Bank Egypt and raise its profile in Egypt, CEO Mohamed El Kettani said.
Britain’s Barclays reached a deal last year to sell its Egyptian banking unit to Attijariwafa Bank, one of Morocco’s largest banks, but the value of the deal, which closed this month, has not been disclosed by either side.
Kettani, speaking to Reuters on Sunday, would not put an exact dollar figure on the acquisition but said it was twice Barclays Egypt’s 2016 book value or about seven times its expected net profit for 2017.
Sources had told Reuters previously that the Barclays Egypt business was valued at around $400 million.
Kettani expects the cost of the deal to be recovered in five to seven years.
Attijariwafa hopes the acquisition will enable it to increase its market share in Egypt to 5 percent within five years, from about 1-1.5 percent currently, and it plans to add new services such as leasing and insurance, said Kettani.
In the next few days the bank will choose an international consulting firm to develop a five-year strategy for its Egypt operations.
“Attijari Bank Egypt will be the group’s entryway to Gulf states and East Africa,” Kettani said.
(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Susan Fenton)
The North Africa Post
Morocco’s foreign ministry voiced satisfaction with the support expressed by the US for a political solution to the Sahara issue based on the autonomy proposal under the Kingdom’s sovereignty.
In a statement issued Friday following the adoption by the Congress of the US 2017 appropriation bill, the foreign ministry “welcomed the provisions relating to the Moroccan Sahara in the 2017 appropriations bill.”
The bill, adopted by the Congress and promulgated by the American President Friday, provides for the use of funds allocated to Morocco in all the national territory including the Saharan provinces, underscores the statement.
The statement adds that the provisions on the Sahara and the report accompanying the bill reflect the Congress’s unambiguous support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative. The report also emphasizes that “the Secretary of State should pursue a negotiated settlement of this dispute, in accordance with the United States’ policy supporting a solution based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty”.
The Foreign Ministry also welcomed that, within the same bill, the US administration is encouraged “to support investments of the private sector in the Western Sahara”.
The same bill hints at the corruption and embezzlement by the Polisario and its mentor Algeria of humanitarian aid sent to Tindouf camps by stressing the need for more control of the aid sent to the refugees across North Africa.
To avoid a government shutdown, the White House and top lawmakers endorsed a $1.1 trillion spending bill after Republicans dropped numerous demands on the environment, Obama-era financial regulations and abortion in marathon sessions.
The bill includes $53.1 billion for foreign aid and State Department diplomacy, a $400 million increase that runs counter to the administration’s vow to slash foreign assistance.
POSTED BY NORTH AFRICA POST
North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.
The News Nigeria
By Rasheed Akinkuolie
The Western Sahara or Saharoui, Spanish Sahara, Moroccan Sahara, SADR were different names at different times given to this highly disputed territory in West Africa. The controversy of sovereignty over Western Sahara is still ongoing, whereas, it ought to have ended with Spanish de-colonization and departure in 1976.
A new dispute emerged soon after which pitched the Alaouite Kingdom of Moroco against the Polisario Liberation Front (PLF) backed by Algeria over sovereignty over the Western Sahara. The latter had declared the territory a sovereign Saharaoui Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Morocco had on the other hand granted autonomy to Saharaoui or Western Sahara as a province within the kingdom based on the fact that it had for over a century contested sovereignty over the territory with Spain long before the formation of the PLF in 1973.
Western Sahara has a land mass of about 250,000 square kilometers, which is about the land mass of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and a quarter the size of Nigeria. The sparse population of about 500,000 people live mainly in Al Fayoun , the capital and other coastal settlements along the Atlantic Coast. The coastal waters teem with marine resources (fruits de la mer) proven deposits of phosphate in the hinterland and most likely oil deposits in the desert. The rest of the country is desert wilderness inhabited by Berber or Amazigh tribes, who have, for centuries like their ancestors, traversed the Sahara Desert in caravans to distant lands in The Middle East and Africa.
The Maghreb countries along the Mediterranean Sea have had chequered history of occupation and colonization which started with the Roman Empire of antiquity and much later from the 18th century by Italian, French, Spanish and Portugese colonial empires.
France annexed Algeria and placed Morocco under its protectorate. Italy annexed Libya, Spain annexed Western Sahara. The colonization of these territories had consistently been resisted by the indigenous Berber tribes led by Morocco.
The first conflict between Spain and Morocco over Western Sahara was the Tetuan War of 1859-60, followed by the Mellila war of 1893-1894, the Rif war of 1909-1927 and the Ifni war of 1957-58 after which Morocco and Spain signed the treaty of Angra de Citra. Spain retained Western Sahara and Sidi Ifni, while the region of Tarfaya was returned to Morocco.
The persistent pressures on Spain to relinquish control over the Western Sahara continued and it was after Morocco threatened to regain the territory by force of arms, that Spain signed the treaty of Madrid with Morocco and Mauritania and left the territory in 1976.
Morocco immediately took over Western Sahara, an action which technically was within the context of the Angra de Citra treaty of 1958, which withheld Western Sahara from Morocco. Spain had continued to occupy Ceuta and Mellila in North Eastern Morocco.
The coalition forces which confronted Spain during the Ifni war of 1958 included Berber tribes in Western Sahara and other interest groups. The agitations for decolonization thereafter was joined by The Polisario Liberation Front (PLF) which was formed in 1973 by Mustafa Sayed and The Saharaoui National Union Party (SNUP) founded in 1974 by Khalelina Ould Errachid with the objective of ousting Spain out of Western Sahara.
When Spain finally left the territory in 1976, the PLF declared Western Sahara as an independent Saharaoui Arab Democratuc Republic (SADR). SNUP on the other hand aligned with Morocco to govern Western Sahara as an autonomous province of Morocco.
In 2006, as a compromise, the king of Morocco created the Royal Advisory Council for Saharaoui Affairs (CORCAS) to run the administration of Saharaoui as an autonomous province. Khalelina Ould Errachid was appointed to head the council and the father of the late SADR President, Mohammed Abdelazeez was a member.
The presence of these important Saharaoui tribal leaders in CORCAS shows that the PLF did not enjoy critical and total support in Saharaoui. The international community is now faced with two divergent positions on the status of Saharaoui, to go autonomy or be granted independence. The fact that PLF opted for independence after the departure of Spain from the territory in 1976, a few years after the organization was formed in 1973 is a food for thought , whereas the conflicts to free the territory from Spanish occupation started over a century earlier.
The ambitious and separatist tendencies of the PLF and divergent opinions in Saharaoui would eventually lead to fresh conflicts which will destabilize the region with each faction drawing external supports. The example of South Sudan is still on going without an end in sight.
The referendum option which had been suggested is already time bad, too late and complicated to implement because of the influx of people and the mixed population. It will be almost impossible to determine the eligibility of voters 40 years after the departure of Spain. The result of the referendum is likely to be rejected by the party that lost under the pretext that it was rigged.
The situation on the ground is almost cast in iron and the way out is to find the most appropriate solution which will serve the best interest of the Saharaoui people who are pawns in the power game of supremacy between Morocco, PLF and Algeria. The conflict over Saharaoui is in essence a proxy war of supremacy between Morocco and Algeria. The two countries have fought two bloody wars over the territory and the resolution of the unhealthy rivalry between them would be a giant step in the eventual resolution of the larger Saharaoui crisis. This should be done under the auspices of the African Union with emphasis on economic cooperation before the more contentious political issues are broached.
The desire of Algeria to have access to the Atlantic Ocean in its southern borders can easily be achieved through bilateral discussions with Morocco which has access to the Atlantic within its territory and Saharaoui. The de facto situation in Saharaoui territory must be acknowledged and the best option is to work within the context of the letter and spirit of CORCAS’s constitution. The autonomy policy must be credible and transparent with a plan of action which will place emphasis on education, medical services, industrialization and agriculture. The rapid development of Saharaoui with job opportunities will reduce agitations for independence and attract refugees from the camps in Tindouf.
Ambassador Akinkuolie Rasheed was the Director of Trade and Investment in Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Morocco’s leading Attijariwafa Bank has completed acquisition of the Egyptian branch of Barclays, the bank announced in a statement on Thursday.
Attijariwafa Bank has obtained all regulatory requirements to acquire 100 percent of Barclays Egypt capital after an agreement was signed by the two banks in October last year, the statement said.
This strategic operation will enable the bank to reinforce its presence in the Middle East and North Africa region, the statement underlined, adding that it will strengthen cooperation between Egypt and Morocco as well as among the countries where the bank exists.
Attijariwafa Bank operates in more than 20 countries including Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Gabon. Enditem
Morocco’s government has approved 51 investments projects worth 6.7 billion U.S. dollars, the prime minister office said in a statement late on Thursday.
The projects will create 6,477 direct jobs, the statement said following a meeting of the Inter-ministerial Investment Commission under the chairmanship of Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani.
The breakdown of investments by sector shows a strong predominance of the energy sector with 4.3 billion dollars, representing nearly two thirds of the total investments submitted to the committee, which are expected to create some 4,803 jobs.
Tourism and leisure activities hold the second position with nearly 13 percent of the planned investments, while transport sector ranks third with 8 percent of said investments.
As for financing, 90 percent of the investments projects are funded by Moroccan investors, and the rest is by partnership between local and international partners.
An artist’s impression of the Chenanisaurus barbaricus
Scientists have discovered one of the last dinosaurs living in Africa before they became extinct 66 million years ago.
The Chenanisaurus barbaricus is extremely rare and is a smaller African contemporary of the North American T rex.
A rare fragment of a jaw bone was studied by Dr Nick Longrich at the University of Bath after it was found in a phosphate mine at Sidi Chennane in the Oulad Abdoun Basin, Morocco.
Dr Longrich, in collaboration with colleagues in Morocco, France and Spain, identified it as belonging to an abelisaur – which was a two-legged predator like T rex and other tyrannosaurs, but had a shorter, blunter snout and even smaller arms.
The tyrannosaurs dominated in North America and Asia, but the abelisaurs were the top predators at the end of the Cretaceous period in Africa, South America, India and Europe.
Dr Longrich told Sky News: “This find was unusual because it’s a dinosaur from marine rocks – it’s a bit like hunting for fossil whales and finding a fossil lion.
“It’s an incredibly rare find – almost like winning the lottery. But the phosphate mines are so rich, it’s like buying a million lottery tickets, so we actually have a chance to find rare dinosaurs like this one.
“We have virtually no dinosaur fossils from this time period in Morocco – it may even be the first dinosaur named from the end-Cretaceous in Africa.
“It’s also one of the last dinosaurs in Africa before the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.
“It’s an exciting find because it shows just how different the fauna was in the southern hemisphere at this time.”
The newly-discovered dinosaur stood on two legs and had stumpy arms, say scientists.
Dr Longrich said: “Abelisaurs had very short arms. The upper arm bone is short, the lower arm is shorter and they have tiny little hands.”
Scientists say the teeth from the fossil were worn as if from biting into bone, suggesting that, like T rex, Chenanisaurus was a predator.
Dr Longrich added: “The odd thing is it’s a terrestrial animal found in marine rocks. It was possibly drowned and washed out to sea and was floating in the ocean.”
The North Africa Post
The Algerian-backed Polisario has imposed a curfew in the Tindouf camps on May 2 to quell a protest that was supposed to be staged on May 3 by the disenchanted population held in inhumane living conditions in south-western Algeria, Morocco’s le 360.ma news website reported.
Battered by a series of diplomatic setbacks at the African and international levels, the Polisario separatists are resorting to violent measures to silence opponents in the Tindouf camps. The curfew was imposed to avert a protest against the polisario leadership and to vent anger at its propaganda especially after it tried to portray its presence in the Guerguarat as a military gain, a chimera that vanished hours before the adoption last Friday of UN Security Council resolution 2351, which calls for a census of the population held in the camps.
The withdrawal of the Polisario from the Guerguarat came after pressure from the international community on the Polisario to retreat from the buffer strip, which under the 1991 cease fire agreement, should remain a demilitarized area.
The Polisario militiamen, in connivance with the Algerian army, have reinforced the siege on the Tindouf camps to prevent Sahrawis from fleeing. The Algerian army has on multiple occasions fired at any Sahrawi who attempts to leave the camps. Last March, Algerian soldiers fired without warning at a car outside the Tindouf camps, killing Kari Mohamed Ali El Ouali and his friend Ahmed Lebouiya Sahraou.
International rights watchdogs, including Human Rights watch and Amnesty International, have on multiple reports drew attention to the plight of the population held against their will in Tindouf where the Algerian state has relegated the destiny of thousands of Sahraouis to the mercy of a separatist militias that trades in their suffering.
From humanitarian aid embezzlement by the Polisario officials to slavery and forced disappearances in the Tinfoud camps, Algeria has abdicated its responsibilities and forsaken a civilian population to the mercy of a separatist militia.
UN Security Council resolution 2351 has once more reiterated the call on Algeria to uphold its responsibility to allow a census of the population held in the camps.
Algeria’s obstinacy to allow a head-count of the population of the Polisario-run camps prompted the EU to reduce aid sent to these camps in a bid to curb humanitarian aid diversion.
The decision was taken following a report by the EU anti-fraud office (OLAF) denouncing the embezzlement of humanitarian aid by the Polisario leadership and Algerian officials. Therefore, the European Commission decided to cut aid commensurately with the estimated number of 90,000 people instead of the inflated 165,000 people put forward by the Polisario and Algeria in an attempt to sell the idea of the existence of a “Sahraoui People” with a “republic” in exile.
Carrying out a head-count of the population held in Tindouf will enable international aid agencies to assess the needs of the population and will also pave the way for the camps dwellers to obtain the refugee status, which will grant them the right to return to their homeland Morocco or at least the right to freely choose their country of asylum. Such options that Algeria and the Polisario dread the most as they continue to trade in the suffering of Sahraouis living in abject conditions.
POSTED BY NORTH AFRICA POST
North Africa Post’s news desk is composed of journalists and editors, who are constantly working to provide new and accurate stories to NAP readers.