Morocco’s elections next month will draw attention from around the region and beyond — but not all eyes will be welcome. Election authorities approved 4,000 national and international observers for the Oct. 7 legislative elections, rejecting requests for about 1,000 others, as new regulations on vote monitors are being put to the test. Among those rejected were observers from the U.S.-based Carter Center. More than 30 political parties are running in the elections, which will determine the makeup of the government and political direction of the kingdom, a U.S. ally and important regional economy. It’s only the second time Moroccans are voting for parliament since thousands took to the streets in 2011 demanding reform through the February 20th Movement. Since then, a coalition of several parties led by the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) has governed, coming to power alongside a new constitution and new laws intended to meet the demands for reform.
One law passed in 2011 dictated the terms and conditions for national and international election observation in Morocco. Civil society groups had wanted a law spelling out the rules, but some now fear it could be used to stifle criticism of the election process.
“Election observation in Morocco has been taking place since 1997, but it was only in 2011 that the Moroccan government instituted a clear, legal framework,” said Nadir Elmoumni, director of studies at the National Council of Human Rights.
The council is charged with overseeing the observation process, including reviewing requests to observe from both international and national organizations. Requests must also be approved by a commission including representatives from the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Communication Ministry.