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France/Morocco: Visa problems intensifying tensions between Rabat and Paris

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Thursday, 7 October 2021 14:53

French and Moroccan Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian and Nasser Bourita (r.) at a press conference in Rabat, 9 October 2017. Mosa'ab Elshamy/AP/SIPA

At the end of September, Gabriel Attal, France’s government spokesman, announced that the country would be reducing, by half, the number of visas that it grants to Moroccans. He explained that this was in response to the low number of laissez-passer passes that the kingdom had issued to its nationals, who were obliged to leave French territory (138 passes for 3,301 people that were in the country illegally).

Although Rabat did not react as strongly as Algiers, the French and Moroccan positions seem to be rather irreconcilable, with each one passing the buck.

This is a recurring problem between Paris and Rabat, which had, among other things, motivated Gérald Darmanin’s visit in October 2020. The French interior minister had then said: “that it was only natural […] that they [the kingdom’s nationals that were in France illegally] should return to Moroccan territory”.