Morocco : Heir Prince silenced since the earthquake

In eight months, Moulay Hassan will meet all the legal conditions to become king of Morocco.

Tags : Morocco, heir prince, Moulay El Hassan, Mohmmed VI, earthquake,

« Where is Moulay Hassan? The heir to the throne of Morocco, silenced since the earthquake

Mohamed VI, who took his son on several trips and assigned him various representative tasks, has not given him any role after the earthquake in the province of Al Haouz.

By Ignacio Cembrero

The Crown Prince of Morocco, Moulay Hassan, appeared seated to the right of his father, Mohamed VI, in the first working meeting held at the Royal Palace of Rabat, less than 24 hours after the earthquake that devastated the Marrakech region. Since then, his father reappeared two more times. The first was on September 12 when he traveled to Marrakech to visit some of the earthquake victims at the University Hospital. The second, two days later, when he presided over another working meeting that also concluded with a statement. In the images of this last meeting, Moulay Hassan is no longer present. He has also had no activity related to the aid distributed to the earthquake victims, nor has he traveled to Marrakech or the province of Al Haouz, where the epicenter was and where the most fatalities occurred. The monarch’s visit to Marrakech lasted only 80 minutes, half of which were spent on transportation to the hospital and the other half with the injured.

A significant difference from the crown princes of Europe, like Charles III, the current monarch of the United Kingdom, who visited a London hospital to meet the victims of a terrorist attack in 2018. Meanwhile, the then Princes of Asturias visited several hospitals in Madrid to console the victims of the Spanair airline accident. In contrast, in the days following the tragedy, which has claimed 3,000 lives, it would have been the ideal time to introduce Moulay Hassan to the Moroccan people, to show his more human side and empathy for the suffering of the thousands of citizens who lost their loved ones. « It has been wasted, » notes a retired Moroccan diplomat to El Confidencial. « We’ve seen the Azaitar brothers more in videos, announcing the tents they were going to deliver to the victims than the heir to the throne, » quips a European diplomat in Rabat. The Azaitar brothers are experts in mixed martial arts who have become close friends of the king in recent years, living with him.

The absence of Moulay Hassan, who turned 20 in May, has raised eyebrows. In the past, his father associated him with many of his activities, as recalled in an authorized video circulated in April, in which he is seen in Paris greeting President Donald Trump. The Crown Prince even replaced his father in 2018 during the inauguration of the expansion of the Tanger Med port, one of the largest projects of Mohamed VI’s reign. The most common explanation is that the heir is absent because his father wanted it that way to prevent speculation about his fragile health leading to abdication in favor of his son. In the images of his recent inaugurations in May, the sovereign appeared emaciated and walked slowly with some uncertainty. In the recordings from this summer, he looked better and had regained some weight. To express solidarity with the injured or perhaps to demonstrate that his health had improved, Mohamed VI donated blood at the hospital in Marrakech, something he did not do when he visited Alhucemas in February 2004 to support the victims of another earthquake that claimed 629 lives.

This donation caught the attention of doctors because the king is 60 years old, has several medical conditions—he underwent surgery twice (in 2018 and 2020) for cardiac arrhythmias—and is heavily medicated. He is not the most suitable candidate for blood donation. When he sat in the hospital chair, before they punctured his vein, he rolled up his pants. Beneath the sock, he appears to have ankle edema, which is often a clinical symptom of many cardiac, hepatic, or vascular conditions. While the Casablanca bourgeoisie and some political circles have quietly speculated about the king’s health and his prolonged absences from the country, no one dared to suggest publicly that he should abdicate, except for the former Minister of Human Rights, Mohamed Ziane, a year ago. He publicly advocated for Moulay Hassan’s swift enthronement, and two months later, he was imprisoned. Although he is in his eighties, he is serving a three-year prison sentence at the El Arjat prison near Rabat. Ziane, who is of Spanish descent, also holds Spanish nationality, but the government has shown no interest in his fate, as stated in a parliamentary response to the Popular Party.

In eight months, Moulay Hassan will meet all the legal conditions to become king in his own right. « From the day he turns 21, the young prince will be king by his own right if providence or circumstances require it, » emphasizes Pierre Vermeren, a professor of Maghreb History at the University of the Sorbonne. « This was not taken for granted, as the king’s fragile health has concerned the Moroccan elite for some time, » he adds. The Moroccan organic law of 2016 stipulates that if the king dies or becomes incapacitated, a Regency Council of 16 members will oversee the heir until he reaches the age of 18. Between 18 and 21, the young king would only be advised by the Council. When he reaches 21, he will be free from any guidance or orientation from that institution. »

El Confidencial, 09/20/2023

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