The Moroccan king felt the need to make a gesture towards the EU and, given the poor level of relations with Macron and France, this diplo coup-de-grace seemed appropriate. But what’s next in store for France or the EU?
Morocco’s tumultuous relations with France is reported to have hit an all time new low point with the withdrawal of one of its important diplomats, AFP reports.
Morocco officially ended the duties of Mohamed Benchaaboun as ambassador in France on King Mohammed VI’s instructions as ties between Rabat and Paris hit a new low.
The move is seen as reflective of dismal relations with both France and the EU in general, following a debate recently in the Moroccan parliament which condemned the EU’s opprobrium on Rabat’s human rights record towards a number of jailed journalists. The announcement was made through a press release from the Moroccan Foreign Ministry that was published in the Official Bulletin, a first of its kind.
Benchaaboun’s duties were, in fact, ended on January 19, the day the European Parliament, helped by French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, voted on a resolution condemning Morocco’s alleged human rights abuses which Rabat described as hostile.
In a non-binding text adopted, MEPs urged Morocco to “respect freedom of expression and media freedom” and to “guarantee imprisoned journalists… a fair trial.”
In the announcements and press releases section, on the last page of the Official Bulletin, the Foreign Ministry announced that “following royal instructions, it has been decided to end the mission of Mr. Mohamed Benchaâboun as Ambassador of His Majesty to the French Republic, as of January 19, 2023.”
On January 23, Morocco’s parliament unanimously condemned the European Parliament’s resolution and decided to reconsider its ties with Strasbourg and subject them to a comprehensive evaluation.
“The Parliament of the Kingdom of Morocco, with its two chambers, condemns the malicious campaign that our country has been exposed to, the latest development of which was the European Parliament’s vote on a recommendation on January 19, 2023,” a statement read out by parliament speaker Rachid Talbi El Alami.
“It notes with great astonishment and indignation this recommendation, which destroyed the levels of trust between the Moroccan and European legislative institutions, and profoundly touched the positive accumulations that took several decades to achieve,” it added.
On July 23, Benchaaboun presented his credentials to Macron following his nomination by King Mohammed VI on December 2021.