Photo Credit: Middle East Eye
April 6th, 2020
Three stories you need to read today. Compiled and broken down for you by Reporting Morocco student journalists — every day. Brought to you from the School for International Training’s journalism program, Rabat.
Source: Morocco World News
Lede: Rabat – The Moulay Youssef Regional Hospital Center (CHR) in Casablanca has transformed its 20-bed maternity ward to accommodate COVID-19 patients.
The hospital is in the process of transitioning the pediatric ward for the same purpose, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reports.
Key Background: Now the maternity ward can accommodate 16 “mild cases” and has four rooms for intensive cases. Morocco’s phosphates company, OCP, contributed to the maternity ward’s transformation.
In the pediatric ward, the hospital plans to add 20 beds and some intensive care rooms.
Why it’s newsworthy: This article reports current numbers for confirmed cases and confirmed deaths due Covid-19 in Morocco. It is interesting that the Moulay Youssef Regional Hospital Center in Casablanca choose to convert maternity and pediatric wards fat this. This choice makes me wonder if pregnancy rates are decreasing in Morocco at this time. The article provides an example of shortages of space in Moroccan hospitals due to the rampant nature of the virus.
Source: Daily Nation
Lede: Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Sunday pardoned more than 5,600 prisoners and ordered their release in stages to avoid contagion in the country’s overcrowded jails.
Key Background: The justice ministry said the 5,654 detainees that would be freed were selected based in their age, health, good conduct and length of detention.
They would be released in stages due to “exceptional circumstances linked to the emergency health situation and necessary precautions” against the virus, it said in a statement.
Why this is newsworthy: This article confirms that King Mohammed VI pardoned nearly 6,000 prisoners due to the rapid spread of Covid-19. A large proportion of those pardoned are political prisoners, older detainees, and low-risk offenders. It is particularly notable that the King is releasing political prisoners because Morocco’s monarchy has shown upset at political movements, protests, and free-speech.
Source: Middle East Eye
Lede: Following the state visit of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to Saudi Arabia in February, Rabat is under pressure to consolidate ties with Riyadh.
Key Background: Thus, Mohammed VI of Morocco rushed his senior adviser, Fouad Ali El Himma, to Riyadh on 26 February for talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
The Moroccan monarch is not, however, neglecting its good relations with Qatar. A day after the meeting in Riyadh, El Himma and the Moroccan foreign affairs minister, Nasser Bourita, were received by the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Why this is newsworthy: This article poses the questions: “Why are Morocco and Algeria in such a hurry to take sides in the Gulf dispute? Could it mean a diplomatic shift in Rabat’s relationship with Riyadh, or is it a temporary warming as Morocco’s leadership prepares a diplomatic comeback?” Also, the article discusses current political overtures and a possible an alliance with Saudi Arabia against the Polisario Front.