Driss Basri

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Not to be confused with Fqih Basri.

Driss Basri (Arabic: إدريس البصريIdrīs al-Baṣrīy, November 8, 1938 in Settat – August 27, 2007) was a Moroccan politician who served as Interior Minister from 1979 to 1999. After General Oufkir's death in 1972, and then Ahmed Dlimi's death in 1983, Driss Basri became Hassan II's right-hand man and number two of the regime from the beginning of the 1980s to the end of the 1990s.[1][2] His name has been associated with the Years of Lead.[2]

Mohammed VI's decision to end his functions in 1999 stirred, for a while, great hopes concerning the democratization of Morocco.[1] He then exiled himself to Paris, where he died of cancer in 2007.

Career[edit]

Basri comes from a poor rural family originally from a village near Settat. His father emigrated to Rabat to work as a "Chaouch", a low rank warden in the administration. Driss Basri never completed secondary school (he did not obtain the Baccalauréat) and joined the police as an officer.[3] Thanks to a relative from Casablanca who was the friend and director of the cabinet of General Oufkir, he was promoted in the early 1960s, as the director of the cabinet of Ahmed Dlimi, who supervised the Moroccan secret police (DST, then named CAB1). This was during an era which saw the "disappearance" of Socialist opponent Mehdi Ben Barka in 1965 in Paris.[4] Aged 24, he was following in parallel law studies,[4] and graduated in the University of Grenoble in France.[1] Dlimi advised Basri that if he was to be further promoted he needed a degree, he then enrolled in university and obtained a bachelor in law.[5]

In 1973, he censored Mohamed Choukri's autobiography, For Bread Alone.

Basri was then appointed as Secretary of state for Interior Affairs in 1974, becoming Ahmed Dlimi's right-hand man. Basri became the iron fist of Hassan II during the Years of Lead. In 1979, Driss Basri was promoted to the post of Interior Minister in the government of Ahmed Osman, a post he held in all successive governments until 1999. Beginning in 1985, he held the post of Minister of Information as well.[6] He won the confidence of King Hassan II, and during his time in office, the Ministry of Interior came to be known as the "mother of all ministries".

He was considered by his detractors as a hindrance to the democratization of Morocco in the 1980s and 1990s. He was accused of creating "administrative" parties to counter the traditional nationalist and popular parties, and of rigging elections in favor of loyalists. Under his term some demonstrations were harshly repressed by police as in 1981 in Casablanca and 1990 in Fes.

Exile and death[edit]

Three months after King Mohammed VI rose to the throne in 1999, succeeding Hassan II, Basri was at last discharged from his ministerial functions on November 9, 1999.[6] He went to live in Paris. In March 2004, his Moroccan passport was terminated, leading Basri to become, in effect, an illegal alien in France.[2] However, he still traveled (to Spain, etc.) and was not disturbed by the French police.[2]

Basri reportedly had an animosity with Fouad Ali El Himma, the close influential friend of Mohammed VI (then crown prince). They had conflictual relations during the time in which El Himma worked at the ministry of the Interior.[7]

Basri was heard by the judge Patrick Ramaël in May 2006, as a witness, concerning Mehdi Ben Barka's kidnapping. Basri declared to the magistrate that he had not been linked to the Ben Barka Affair. He added that "it is possible that the King knew. It is legitimate to think that de Gaulle possessed some information…" [8]

Driss Basri died in Paris on August 27, 2007.[9][10] He was buried in Rabat on August 29; current Interior Minister in 2007 Chakib Benmoussa was the only representative of the government at the funeral.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Pierre Haski, La mort dans l'impunité de Driss Basri, le "superflic" d'Hassan II, Rue 89, 27 August 2007 (French)
  2. ^ a b c d Mort de Driss Basri, symbole des années de plomb, RFI (audio interviews of Basri) (French)
  3. ^ Pierre Vermeran (2004). La formation des élites marocaines. p. 323. 
  4. ^ a b Affaire Ben Barka : Driss Basri chez le juge, Le Figaro, 23 May 2006 (French)
  5. ^ Mahjoub Tobji. Les officier de sa majesté. 2006. 
  6. ^ a b c Maroc: l'ex-puissant ministre de l'Intérieur de Hassan II inhumé à Rabat, AFP (Jeuneafrique.com), August 29, 2007 (French).
  7. ^ Ali Amar. Mohammed VI, le grand malentendu. 
  8. ^ French: « Je n'ai été mêlé ni de près, ni de loin, ni à l'époque, ni à aucun moment, à l'affaire qui s'est déroulée sur le sol français », explique-t-il au Figaro. « Seul un petit groupe, qui a gardé un silence total, savait. Il est possible que le roi savait. Il est légitime de penser que de Gaulle était en possession d'informations… Le problème est qu'aujourd'hui les protagonistes sont tous morts » in Ben Barka : Driss Basri chez le juge, Le Figaro, 23 May 2006 (French)
  9. ^ Former Moroccan minister dies, AFP (The Times, South Africa), August 27, 2007 (English)
  10. ^ David Bamford, Morocco's strongman dies in Paris, BBC News Online, August 27, 2007 (English)