Morocco Local Authorities and Administration

By | June 4, 2021

State and territorial order

Political and legal basis of the current territorial and administrative order of Morocco

  • the 2011 Constitution
  • the 2015 Law on Local Authorities (collectivités territoriales, CT) and related organic laws
  • the older Charte Communale (Al mithaq al-dschamaa’i)
  • the 2018 national charter on devolution
  • various laws on the financing of local authorities

The advanced regionalization and deconcentration (“Régionalization avancée”) have been a constant political issue in Morocco for decades, which is also promoted by international actors. Opinions differ on the extent to which decentralization can lead to more political participation. A study by DIE analyzes the question from a democratic theoretical perspective.

According to dentistrymyth, Morocco and the parts of Western Sahara controlled by Morocco are divided into 12 (previously 16) regions (French “région”). The collectivités territoriales are currently the following:

  • 12 Wilayas (since 2015 equal to the regions)
  • 13 prefectures (préfecture, amaala) often the capitals of the Wilayas, divided into pachaliks)
  • 62 provinces (province, iqlim) divided into qaidat / qiyadaat
  • 8 prefectures of arrondissements (in Casablanca, ar. Muqata´a)
  • 1503 municipalities, of which 221 are urban and 1282 are rural (“dschamaa mahalliya”)

The new constitution of July 1, 2011 stipulated that the heads of the regions (région) and the provinces (iqlim, pl. Aqaliim) and prefectures (amaala, pl. Amaalaat) will continue to be selected by the Ministry of the Interior. The previously indirectly elected, advisory “regional councils” (Conseils Régionaux / Al madschaalis al dschihawwiya) are no longer determined indirectly, but in general elections (next election expected in 2021). The relevant framework laws were passed in summer 2015, a few weeks before the local and regional elections on September 4, 2015.

Morocco Local Authorities

Administration and decision-making structures

The chiefs of the regions (Arabic “al-wali”, French “le wali”) are appointed directly by the king. They are accountable to the Ministry of the Interior and work with the regional councils and regional presidents. The following functions are all responsible to the Ministry of the Interior and are not chosen:

  • Wali
  • Governor de Province or Préfecture
  • Chef de Cercle (Daa’irat), as mediator between the prefecture / province and Qaidat
  • Pasha (pashalik, urban environment)
  • Qaid (Qaidat, Qiyadat, rural environment)
  • Moqaddem

In addition to these unelected, appointed state officials, there have been regional councils (conseils régionaux) since 2015, which are directly elected by the people for six years. The so-called regional councils elect the presidents of the regional councils and also some of the members of the “council chamber” (chambre des conseillers, senate) of the parliament from among their ranks. On September 4, 2015, the regional representatives were directly elected for the first time. The new bodies are to be given more political say, including on budget issues. The practical implementation is supported by German political foundations in Morocco, for example in Marrakech by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The Moroccan municipal councils (conseils communaux) are also elected by the people every six years in a secret and equal vote. The council representatives then elect the mayor (Président de la Commune) from among their ranks. A local council or city council has at least 11 members.

The responsibilities and structure of the municipal administrations are regulated in the so-called “Charte Communale” (municipal law), which was passed in 2002 and has been updated several times since then. A characteristic of the Moroccan administration is the existence of double, triple and parallel structures on almost all levels. Another specific feature is the same naming of different administrative units. Terms like Gouverneur, province, préfecture appear in different contexts. The system is sometimes difficult to understand, especially for foreigners and newcomers, but also for Moroccans.

The prefectures and provinces ultimately controlled by the Ministry of the Interior have some responsibilities and competencies in Morocco which in Western democracies lie with the elected municipal representatives. The weak financial resources of the municipalities and the lack of networking between the actors at the municipal, regional and national level represent a development problem in Morocco as in all of North Africa. At the district level, there are sometimes parallel structures. The “Qaid” or “Shaykh” is the district head, registration authority and police authority at the same time, whereby the “Qaid” usually has no enforcement powers (in concrete terms: a Qa’id can arrest a citizen, but he cannot imprison him). On the lowest level is the “Moqaddem”

Under the name CoMun, there was a program network with which GIZ promoted municipal expertise in North African cities – among other things through meetings between municipal actors in the Maghreb and in Germany and through the funding of young experts in urban planning.