Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, July 2011
Moroccan King Says Elections to Be Held Soon
July 30, 2011
Morocco's King Mohammed VI has vowed to hold parliamentary elections soon, though without specifying when, as pro-democracy activists press for further reform in the wake of the July 1 constitutional referendum.
AFP - Morocco's King Mohammed VI called Saturday for parliamentary elections to be held soon, in his first speech since a July 1 referendum overwhelmingly approved curbing some of his prerogatives.
"We must begin by the election of a new house of representatives... so that a new head of government can be named from the party which comes first," he said.
In his annual speech from the throne the king warned that any delay threatened the "dynamic of confidence" produced by the reforms and the opportunities they offered.
"Political parties are asked to redouble their efforts in favour of the reconciliation of citizens, particularly the young, with political action," he said.
The political climate is tense in Morocco as the king attempts to prevent any contagion of the Arab Spring protests that have sent shockwaves across the region.
Yet far from nipping democratic aspirations in the bud, the July 1 vote fuelled popular demands for greater social justice.
Thousands of people gathered in several cities on July 17 for rallies demanding more sweeping reforms of the Arab world's oldest reigning monarchy.
The date of the upcoming elections is a subject of regular negotiations between the interior ministry and the country's political parties but has remained undetermined so far.
Morocco's youth-based February 20 movement however has called for fresh rallies on Sunday to continue pressing for a parliamentary monarchy.
King announces landmark constitutional reforms
In a televised address on Friday evening, King Mohammed VI unveiled sweeping political reforms that are intended to transform the Moroccan kingdom into a constitutional monarchy following nationwide demands for change.
By News Wires (text)
REUTERS - Morocco's King Mohammed promised a new democratic constitution on Friday that would devolve some of his powers to parliament and the government, adding Moroccans would be able to vote for the changes in a July 1 referendum.
"We have managed, three months after having launched a
constitutional revision process, to develop a new democratic
constitutional charter," he said in a televised address to the
Latest update: 17/06/2011
A new Constitution for Moroccans
King Mohammed VI of Morocco is making changes to the country's Constitution, that could transfer more power from the monarchy to the government. Some Moroccans are sceptical, asking how changes can be democratic when they have been drawn up not by the people, but by experts appointed by the King. But the new Constitution will be put the the people in a referendum next month.
REUTERS - Trade unions in Morocco threw their weight on Sunday behind demands for reform confronting the Arab world's longest-serving dynasty and several thousand demonstrators marched through the streets.
Heavy rain may have kept some away, with turnout in the commercial capital Casablanca down on previous protests since February that have authorities concerned about a possible Egypt-style popular uprising.
But Sunday, Labour Day, marked the first time some of Morocco's trade unions have joined protests driven by the youth-led February 20 Movement and inspired by grassroots revolts in other parts of the Arab world.
They turned out despite a pledge by King Mohammed's government to increase public sector salaries and raise the minimum wage from May 1 -- the latest in a series of handouts from authorities anxious to prevent a spillover of popular revolt from other North African countries.
Protests in Tunisia that toppled veteran autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January gathered decisive momentum when trade unions got involved in a significant way.
Moroccan textile worker Mohamed Maadour complained that his comrades would only get half of the promised 10 percent increase to the minimum wage. "We don't understand why we are being singled out when the textile industry is the country's most lucrative and its biggest employer," he said.
But divisions were evident and could yet weaken the call for change, with some unions distancing themselves from a February 20 Movement sit-in in the city.
"We are marching because we want to push for a social agenda that has nothing to do with the political agenda of the February 20 Movement," said Abdelhaq Tafnout of SNB, the banking employees union.
Only some 1,500 people affiliated with the independent UMT union, the country's largest, explicitly supported the sit-in and UMT's leading figures were absent.
The protesters' demands include a reduction in the king's political clout, a crackdown on corruption and the sacking of members of the monarch's inner circle whom they accuse of abuse of power and business malpractice.
King Mohammed has appointed a committee to reform the constitution in order to cede more powers, promised to make justice independent and freed some political prisoners.
Protesters said they would not be deterred by security fears after a bomb at a cafe in the tourist city of Marrakesh on Thursday killed 15 people, many of them foreign tourists.
"We understand that some prominent figures in the 'old' regime will want to use the attacks to stop this movement for change and reform, but they won't be able to," said Youssef Mezzi, an organiser of the February 20 Movement.
Protesters carried placards that read, "No to terrorism, yes to reform", and, "Oh Moroccans, the blasts are a charade."
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