French-Moroccan diplomatic ties in turmoil: Ambassador’s mission comes to an end amid crisis
The mission of Morocco’s ambassador to France has ended without a successor being appointed, in a climate of diplomatic crisis between Rabat and Paris, local media announced on Friday.
“In accordance with high royal instructions, it has been decided to terminate the functions of Mr. Mohamed Benchaâboun as Ambassador of His Majesty to the French Republic, as of January 19, 2023,” said a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs published in the Official Bulletin of February 2 and relayed Friday by the media.
The date of the end of the mission of the Moroccan diplomatic representative in France “intervenes the day when the European Parliament voted a resolution calling on the Moroccan authorities to respect the freedom of the press”, writes the Hespress media.
“It can’t be a simple coincidence”, notes the Medias 24 news site, which describes “an announcement as sober and cold as Morocco’s anger can be”.
On January 19, the European Parliament adopted by a large majority a non-binding resolution urging the Moroccan authorities to “respect freedom of expression and freedom of the media” and to put an end to the “harassment of all journalists”.
Moroccan politicians and some media have accused France of having “orchestrated” an anti-Moroccan campaign in Brussels.
The chairman of the Morocco-EU joint parliamentary committee Lahcen Haddad has also accused “the French deep state” of being at the origin of the resolution of the Euro-deputies. This text “does not commit France in any way”, replied Christophe Lecourtier, the French ambassador to Morocco.
Paris had also refuted the existence of any crisis with Rabat even if the state visit of President Emmanuel Macron planned – without a date – in the 1st quarter seems to be moving away, especially since the Cherifian kingdom no longer has an ambassador in Paris and that no replacement has yet been appointed.
Officially, the decision to terminate Mr. Benchaâboun’s functions is a normal administrative procedure that follows his appointment by King Mohammed VI on October 18 as the head of a sovereign investment fund whose mission is to boost the economy.