After having increased his attendance at official acts upon his return to Morocco in March, at the end of a three-month vacation in Gabon, King Mohamed VI has once again tempered his public presence. Last Thursday, the monarch of the Alaouite dynasty fulfilled the tradition of presiding over the religious celebration of Eid el Adha, among the main ones in Islam, in the Hassan II mosque in Tetouan, as well as the ritual of the sacrifice of the first lamb in the kingdom.
It was his first public appearance in a month. The following day, in the middle of the so-called Muslim Easter weekend, the Royal Palace announced that Mohamed VI would not give the traditional commemorative speech of the Revolution of the King and the People, which recalls the exile of Mohamed V under French colonization, for the first time in 24 years. The cancellation of the sovereign’s participation may confirm his desire to reduce his official agenda as he approaches his 60th birthday, the day after a holiday considered a milestone in the Moroccan struggle for independence, led by his grandfather.
Mohamed VI appeared visibly thinner in the images broadcast by SNRT public television at the Tetouan mosque, as in the photographs in which he was last seen at the end of May at the presentation of two new Moroccan vehicles at the Royal Palace of Rabat. In his capacity as Emir al Muaminin or Commander of the Believers, he was accompanied by his son and crown prince, Mulay Hasan, 20, and his brother and second in line of succession, Mulay Rachid, 53.
Before proceeding to the ritual slaughter of the lamb outside the temple, the imam prayed to God to preserve the king and crown his actions with success. The sovereign celebrated Eid el Kebir in Tetouan, the former Spanish colonial capital in northern Morocco, when he was spending a few days on vacation at the royal residence of Midiq on the Mediterranean coast near the autonomous city of Ceuta, according to El Confidencial.
The following day, Friday, while Moroccans enjoyed a festive long weekend until Sunday, the MAP agency released a statement from the official spokesperson for the Royal Palace, reproduced in its entirety by the media without comment. “Given that the anniversary of the glorious Revolution of the King and the People, comes a few days after the Speech of the Throne and before the Royal Speech at the opening of Parliament, and in the light of experience in this regard, it has been decided to continue celebrating the anniversary of the memorable Revolution of August 20, without a Royal Speech being addressed to the Nation on this occasion,” read the official text.
During his vacation last summer in Paris, the monarch returned to Rabat to record the traditional speeches on the scheduled dates. The monarch’s fourth annual address commemorates the November 6 Green March, the mobilization of tens of thousands of civilians in the autumn of 1975 over Western Sahara, which was then under Spanish administration.
The surprise suppression of the speech on August 20 comes after the debate on Mohamed VI’s public presence in his country. He spent more than six months abroad in 2022 (in Gabon, Seychelles and Paris) and has remained abroad for about three months since the beginning of the year (in Gabon).
Last May, the former minister Mohamed Ziane, 80 years old and also a Spanish national, was finally sentenced to three years in prison. Ziane, who was the Minister of Human Rights between 1995 and 1996, before joining the opposition, has been incarcerated for seven months in a prison on the outskirts of Rabat, after being charged with 11 crimes, including “insult to the institutions.” A little over a year ago, he released a video on social networks in which he criticized “the absences of Mohamed VI,” for allegedly ignoring the affairs of the kingdom, demanding that he abdicate in favor of Crown Prince Mulay Hasan.
At the end of his winter holidays, Mohamed VI returned to Morocco at the end of March from his residence in Pointe-Denis, on the Libreville estuary, coinciding with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The sovereign interrupted his rest to make an official visit on February 15 to the capital of Gabon, where he was first observed noticeably thinner. Then health reasons forced him to cancel, at the last minute, the official trip he had planned the following week to Senegal, when his Foreign Minister, Naser Burita, was already waiting for his arrival in Dakar.
The state of health of King Mohamed VI, who underwent heart surgery in 2018 and 2020, is not usually addressed in communications from the Royal Palace or by the media in the Maghreb country. After an initial stage of his reign marked by reforms between 1999 and 2011, Mohamed VI seems to have left the reins of management in recent years in the hands of advisers such as Fuad Ali el Himma, his former classmate at the Royal College of Rabat. Security concerns are under the command of Abdelatif Hamuchi, who controls the General Directorate for Territorial Supervision (the internal intelligence institution) and National Security, which includes 30,000 police officers.
Upon his return from Gabon, Mohamed VI appeared frequently at official and religious acts, inaugurations and even at a commercial presentation. He chaired the Ramadan religious talks of Islamic scholars founded by his father, Hassan II, and broadcast on television. During the same sacred month, he traveled to Tangier to inaugurate a large hospital complex that had been completed for some time. His intense public activity culminated in the automobile presentation at the royal palace in Rabat.
The Royal Palace has not yet announced the acts that traditionally accompany the royal speech on the occasion of the Feast of the Throne on July 30. Since 2020, receptions and other activities have been suspended due to the restrictions imposed during the pandemic, which have now been completely lifted by the Moroccan authorities.
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