A new dawn for the Amazigh cause

This newcomer formed an alliance at the end of 2020 with two political parties that are members of the government majority, the National Rally of Independents (RNI) and the Popular Movement (deputy).

Under the leadership of these two political groups, activists of the Amazigh movement are preparing to participate in the next legislative, regional and municipal elections in Morocco, which are to be held in September.

The objective: to promote the Amazigh cause within government institutions. The Amazigh or Berber ethnic group is located in North Africa, in countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. This is a historic decision for the Moroccan Amazigh movement, which is now positioning itself on the political scene after decades of boycotting the elections.

The birth of the forehead

The initiative, which brings together several actors of the Amazigh movement in Morocco – including the lawyer and Amazigh activist Ahmed Ahermouch – is intended as a platform to “widen the space of public debate on the issue of political participation of the Amazigh movement”, reads -on the first press release from the front. In the eyes of its co-founders, the time has come “to open a new front to the Amazigh struggle” and to fight for the demands of the movement within public institutions.

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It is a struggle that began after independence. “The birth of the Amazigh movement is above all a reaction to the exclusion of the Amazigh people since the end of the French protectorate”, explains Mohyi Eddine Hajjaj, national coordinator of FAPA.

“A certain force within the state has succeeded in imposing the doctrine of monism on all levels of Moroccan society, to the detriment of the Amazigh people. Since then, the movement has mobilized in different forms, without being part of the country’s government institutions.

However, several initiatives have been launched in the hope of creating an Amazigh political party, all to no avail. The most emblematic was led by lawyer and writer Ahmed Dgharni (1947-2020).

The Interior Ministry banned its Moroccan Amazigh Democratic Party (PDAM) in 2007, and it was dissolved by the administrative court of Rabat in 2008 for non-compliance with laws governing political parties. They prohibit the creation of parties based on ethnicity. Other initiatives, such as the Tamount party (unity in the Amazigh language) in 2018 or Democratic Change in 2019, were not successful.

“The Amazigh movement called for a boycott of the elections, simply because we were not recognized by the state,” explains an Amazigh activist. “The constitution recognized neither our identity nor our language. We didn’t exist, so voting meant absolutely nothing. The constitution approved in 2011, which recognizes Amazigh as an official language, changed everything.

Progressive benchmark

More than nine years later, the FAPA has broken with its boycott policy advocated by the movement for decades. To achieve this, the front engaged in dialogue with four political parties: the RNI and the member of the government majority, as well as the Authenticity and Modernity Party and Party of Progress and Socialism.

According to the Hajjaj of FAPA, these trainings were chosen on the basis of three main axes.

  • The Amazigh question tops the list of alliance criteria. “It was inconceivable for us to work with a party that would not develop and renew this framework,” he said. The same goes for freedoms and other causes we are working on within the Amazigh movement. “
  • The second axis is organizational.
  • The third is voter turnout. “If we want to change things through institutions, we need to access those institutions. And the main gate goes through the elections, ”continues Hajjaj.

With these political parties, the representatives of the front went straight to the point: “We have repeated over and over again that we are not only coming to defend Amazighism as a language and culture,” says Hajjaj.

“There are also economic and social objectives. The new party wishes to engage in the debate on the new development model of the country, whose special commission, appointed by King Mohammed VI, is expected to produce its report in the coming days. “We have given our opinion on the matter at these meetings,” adds Hajjaj.

Leading the fight in public institutions

After nine months of dialogue with the four political parties, the FAPA finally chose to ally with the RNI and the MP. “Our activists will work in both parties. The choice between the two formations is the responsibility of the regional or local sections of the front, ”explains Hajjaj.

“We are writing history,” said Aziz Akhannouch, president of the RNI and Minister of Agriculture, at the ceremony held last November on the sidelines of the signing of the agreement.

“We are changing ideas and mentalities in relation to the question that unites us all: the Amazigh question. We supported the idea of ​​involving the leaders and symbols of the Amazigh movement in political action and the electoral process so that we can, together, lead this fight within public institutions.

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At a similar ceremony held in December, Mohand Laenser, MP chairman, said that “this step reflects what […] we have always believed, namely that the deputy is open to all Moroccans, and that our defense of the Amazigh question has never been reduced to narrow political or electoral purposes because we consider that this question is an important identity for the Morocco.

This alliance is, in the eyes of the former Minister of the Interior, “a starting point for the implementation of what we aspire to, namely the integration of the Amazigh language into all aspects of public life. “.

Towards an Amazigh New Year party

In an interview with Young Africa in 2019, Akhannouch explained that “the constitution of 2011 requested by His Majesty provides real answers to what is called the Amazigh cause. Unfortunately, the implementing decrees are very late. This needs to be resolved. “

The Constitutional Assembly, a joint parliamentary group of the RNI and the Constitutional Union, tabled a bill on January 13 to declare the Amazigh New Year’s Day, Yennayer – celebrated on January 13 in Morocco – as a paid public holiday, as has been the case in Algeria since 2018.

For their part, the two parliamentary groups of the deputy, in partnership with the FAPA, organized a round table on January 14 on the theme of “the formalization of Amazigh as an institutional issue”. “The Amazigh people have been excluded by political decision. They can only be rehabilitated by a political decision, ”explains Hajjaj. A struggle whose fruits could be reaped in the next elections.

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