1 July 2011

Morocco: Mohammed VI Votes for New Constitution As Dissidents Call for Referendum Boycott

Photo: Euronews
Tens of thousands of people marched in Morocco on Sunday both for and against a proposed new constitution.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI has voted in the constitutional referendum he initiated after months of protests inspired by the Arab Spring. The youth-based 20 February Movement, which organised the demonstrations, has called for a boycott.

Turnout was reported to be low on Friday morning but expected to pick up after prayers.

Morocco's main political parties, trade unions, civic groups and religious leaders have called for a "yes" vote to changes that will devolve some of the king's powers but leave him head of state and chairing the cabinet.

Pro-government media have campaigned hard for citizens to vote.

But the 20 February Movement has called for a boycott, believing that the proposals do not go far enough.

The key reforms proposed are:

  • The prime minister will be named by the king from within the majority party in parliament - at the moment the king names any prime minister he wants;
  • Court rulings will still be made in the name of the king and he will name judges and keep his right to grant amnesties;
  • The king remains the Commander of the Faithful, the top religious authority in the kingdom but a reference to him as "sacred" is dropped;
  • The prime minister will preside over the Government Council, which will present policy proposals to cabinet, still presided over by the king;
  • The head of the government will be head of government and have the power to dissolve the lower house of parliament;
  • The king remains head of state and the military;
  • Parliament's role will be expanded to give it more oversight of such matters as civil rights and freedoms, amnesty, electoral districts and nationality issues;
  • The indigenous Berber language will become an official state language along with Arabic - a first in north Africa;
  • Women will be guaranteed "civic and social" equality with men - previously they were only guaranteed "political" equality.

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InFocus

Morocco's Opposition Calls New Protest After Referendum

Tens of thousands of people marched in Morocco on Sunday both for and against a proposed new constitution.

Morocco's opposition 20 February Movement has called for new protests after the government announced that 98 percent of voters had voted "yes" to proposed constitutional changes. Read more »