x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Moroccan king should explain mistaken pardon

Releasing a child rapist was no doubt a simple error, but the king of Morocco has handled the aftermath badly so far, columnists say. Also today: Morsi's worst mistake.

Moroccan king needs to explain how error was made in unpopular pardon of Spanish rapist

Spanish police have arrested Daniel Galvan Vina, who was pardoned last week by the king of Morocco while serving a 30-year sentence for raping at least 11 children. King Mohammed VI revoked the pardon on Sunday after a Friday protest in front of parliament.

"Who bears the responsibility for putting this man on the list of those who could leave prison under a royal pardon?" columnist Tawfiq Bouachrine demanded, in the Moroccan online newspaper Hespress.

The minister of justice, Mustafa Ramid, told the newspaper that "the pardon came from a royal decree, and the department just carried it out. His Majesty has a constitutional right to pardon people, and no doubt [had] justifications for releasing the detainee."

The columnist said in another piece on the same website that a royal apology for the mistake is now anticipated. "I expect to see a royal statement that what happened was an administrative error by the authorities responsible of preparing the amnesty list for the king," the columnist wrote.

He went on to suggest that the explanation will also say that after Galvan's name was found to be on the pardon list, "the king gave orders to the ministry of justice to fix this mistake".

Further, the writer said, the king, "who is known for his humanity," will be "keen to contact the families of the victims, and apologise to them in the name of the Diwan, and promise to repair what is broken".

Moroccans were angry about the freedom of the "murderer of Kenitra" - the port where Galvan once lived - and demonstrations arose rapidly. A short statement from the king would calm the situation, and could make clear the truth of what happened, he added.

"This would not affect the prestige of anyone. On the contrary, it would bring the king closer to his people."

Another writer, Abdul Rahim Al Allam, expressed on the same website concerns that similar incidents could happen in the future, and added that the government's approach in communicating with people about this case was "more shocking than the amnesty itself".

The incident of amnesty will be repeated if Morocco and the Moroccans do not have a democratic political system; a system in which responsibility is linked to suffrage and legal accountability, and where the amnesty giver cannot get away with arbitrary and unjust actions, he added.

All Moroccans should demand "the establishment of a democratic Morocco; one that does not allow child rapists to get away with it without punishment," the writer said.

Democracy would also help the country "to move away from narrow ideologies, to develop new ways of struggle, and to put the national interest first," the writer said.

 

Morsi's worst mistake lay in appointing an army chief he thought would be pro-Brotherhood

Egypt's ejected president, Mohamed Morsi, who is now in custody, made numerous mistakes during his presidency, Abdul Bari Atwan wrote in the Jordan-based Al Arab Alyawm.

But he and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood now understand that his biggest mistake was forcing the retirement of Hussein Tantawi as commander-in-chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and appointing Abdel Fattah El Sisi in his place.

Mr Morsi and his team thought that Gen El Sisi's strong Islamist feelings would make him loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood.

So "the Brotherhood celebrated twice, first over the removal of Gen Tantawi and again over the appointment of Gen El Sisi. But the celebrations did not last long.

"This was not because of the massive protests that made the elected president's rule almost impossible, but because it turned out that really Gen El Sisi was the biggest danger. And the group around the general is standing behind the popular protests against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood," the writer said.

But a month after Mr Morsi was toppled, the situation is getting worse and the goal of a stable Egypt appears to be farther away than ever.

Cairo is now witnessing unprecedented diplomatic activity that reveals the state of crisis prevailing in Egypt. A main cause of this diplomatic bustle is the fear that the crisis, if it worsens, will have serious negative impacts on a variety of strategic interests.

The biggest challenge facing Gen El Sisi now is maintaining popular support. Despite dissent, he contends that he did act with public approval, in the form of the June 30 demonstrations.

The rest of the army leadership is solidly behind him, despite his original hesitation to be firm, which grew from the growth of international pressure.

There are solutions, ways to get out of this crisis, most notably the release Mr Morsi and his companions and the dropping of any charges against them, in exchange for them waiving their powers.

But "it is difficult for the Brotherhood to accept this solution as they consider themselves the legitimate leaders and the victims of a military coup that robbed them of power," he added.

There is also another way, involving resignations of both sides - both Mr Morsi and Gen El Sisi - and the selection of some acceptable figure as an interim president to oversee presidential and parliamentary elections within six months.

"The difficult question is whether the two parties would accept this 'crude' and 'shocking' solution," the columnist said.

"But what is harder than finding the answer to that is contemplating the results of prolonging of the crisis, not only for Egypt but for the entire region, and the US."

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae