Annual General Assembly of the Association of Presidents of local governments of Morocco

UCLG Africa was invited to attend the second annual general assembly of the Association of Presidents of local governments of Morocco in Rabat on 15 February 2015. UCLG Africa delegation headed by its President, Khalifa Sall also included the UCLG Africa secretary general, the Chief of staff and director of operation and the head of protocol services at the UCLG Africa secretariat. The assembly was attended by around 1 000 local government Presidents, and numerous local national and local administrations senior staff.

The opening ceremony was chaired by the deputy minister in the ministry of internal affairs of Morocco. In his introductory remarks the Deputy Minister insisted on the role of decentralization in strengthening Moroccan democracy. In seeking for service delivery to citizen by local authorities, the association is key when it comes to dialoguing with the national government for the implementation of the constitution provisions on advanced regionalization. His Majesty King Mohammed VI said that decentralization is not a technique but rather a political option to modernize and democratize our country. The theme chosen for this assembly is quite relevant to an effective implementation of the new decentralized model envisioned for the country. The new legal instruments, local government finance, capacity building for local governments and city diplomacy are important building blocks in the implementation of the new decentralized governance of Morocco. The partnership agreement to be signed during this ceremony between the Ministry of Interior and the Association of local governments of Morocco shows the high expectation that the government is putting on the association of Presidents of local governments to help the government in addressing effectively the challenge of decentralization.

The Minister of Urban and regional development of Morocco, Mr Laensar, explained the need for an active local government national association which role is key in shaping the direction for a more decentralized governance, as an efficient partner to the national government. He expressed wishes of long live for the national association of Mayors of Morocco.

The UCLG Africa President, Mayor of Dakar, Senegal, wished first to extend his gratitude to the Kingdom of Morocco, a land of decentralization, which hosts the Headquarters of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, UCLG Africa, the umbrella organization of African local authorities. We went on saying that Morocco is a model in terms of financing local governments, and on decentralization reforms. This is the sign that this country is starting to realize that local government is the true way to development. We are heading to the Africities Summit in Johannesburg, from 1 to 5 December 2015, to the UN Conference on Finances for Development in Addis Ababa in July 2015, to COP21 meeting on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015, to the 5th UCLG Congress in Bogotá and to the Habitat III Conference in October 2016. Local authorities from Africa and from Morocco specifically, should take their due place in these agendas, and shall not wait for permission by national government to be at the fore of local responsiveness to the expectations of citizen. When good or bad events occur to them, citizen go first to the mayor before calling on the wali or the representative of the national line ministry. Therefore mayors and local authorities should endeavour as envisioned during this assembly, to capacitate themselves in order to be able to plan local development, to improve local finance and local governance, to organize the regular delivery of affordable basic services, to strive and develop participatory approaches which will enhance social inclusion and justice, and to be active in city diplomacy and transborder decentralized cooperation. He ended his speech by wishing great success to the second general assembly of the association of Presidents of local governments of Morocco.

The President of the national association of the Presidents of local governments of Morocco, welcomed first the ministers and participants at this important gathering. He expressed hope that the new decentralization laws pave the way towards the effective implementation of the advanced regionalization as a response to the demands of the Moroccan people. Local authorities should win the battle of development and should mobilize their experiences to enrich the building of a conducive environment for the implementation of the option for decentralized of public governance championned by His Majesty the King and translated into the Moroccan constitution of the year 2011. He wished that the organic laws on decentralization are enriched by the proposals gathered during regional fora organized by the association with local authorities across the country. He also stressed the importance of city diplomacy to open up new avenues  for the country international relations, and to nurtur exchanges between local authorities within Africa and abroad. The association is ready to collaborate with all institutions in national and international levels to make this new decentralized governance a reality in the day to day life of the Moroccan people. The association is a platform for participating in the definition and implementation of better the public policies in this country. He thanked the members of the bureau of the association for their engagement and dedication, and wished success for the proceedings of the assembly.

The opening session ended with a ceremony where a distinction was granted to a key personnality who has done a lot to defend the cause of local governments in Morocco and abroad, Mr. Moulay Abdelaziz Hafidi Alaoui, Mayor of Outat el Hadj local government.

A distinction was also attributed to the Mayor of Dakar, Mr. Khalifa Ababacar Sall, in his capacity as President of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa.