Morocco: voting in Rabat's Medina, 'backing Islamists'

High abstention rate feared

25 November, 15:56

Morocco elections Morocco elections

(ANSAmed) - RABAT, NOVEMBER 25 - AT 10:30 a.m. there was a small number of voters coming and going at the Tawhibe elementary school, which houses one of the five voting stations in Rabat's Medina for the parliamentary elections. Women of all ages are seen, some wearing headscarves and other not, some with their children in tow and an elderly man who after voting handed his open ballot to the wrong people. In the classroom, amid the benches and the blackboard, are photos of King Mohammed VI, posters on French spelling, a transparent ballot box through which one can easily see who people have just voted for. In Section 33 there is a bit of confusion: the president, Dhamani Driss says that as of 10:20 a.m. 62 voters out of the 521 registered to do so had voted.

According to representatives of the list there were only 52, more women (28) than men (24). One of the representatives, while representing another one of the numerous lists, does not hide the fact that he backs the moderate Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD), seen as one of the front runners. ''There is a movement in the Arab world, you know,'' ANSA was told by Hilal Oidrhiri Mostafa, ''going in this direction. In Tunisia and Libya we still don't know, but that is the way the situation is headed in Egypt, Yemen and Syria. In the PJD there are very highly educated men, and even Europeans and Americans want them to win to change the Arab world.'' The PJD ''is against secularity, of course, but not like in Saudi Arabia or Iran. That is something else altogether.'' On the issue of whether women's rights will be guaranteed, Hilal said that ''this we do not know. We'll see''.

Having a university degree in linguistics, he works as a tailor.

''I earn 500 dirham (about 50 euros) a week. Does this seem enough with three children to provide for?'', he said in reference to the work that many of the thirty parties on the list promised. ''In any case,'' he concluded, ''33 parties are too many. Too much money is spent, while 4-5 would be enough.'' Among the list representatives is a 20-year-old female student in her second year of Arab law, with head uncovered and far from the men's bench. She seems to feel a bit out of place, and a male ''colleague'' responded in her stead that ''we are here only because they pay us to do so, between 150 and 300 dirhams (15-30 euros) depending on the party. PAM (a party with links to the king, part of the G8 Coalition for Democracy) is the one that pays the most.'' And while Morocco is staking everything on the turnout, outside life goes on like any other Friday of prayer. In the streets there are no election posters, and few - like the caretaker of the hotel we are staying in - seems to remember that today is election day. (ANSAmed).

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