Morocco’s King Mohammed VI yesterday through his landmark speech announced proposals for constitutional amendments in the country. The king said the measures would entrench democratic institutions and protect rights, though he confirmed that he will retain some key powers. The reforms would give the prime minister and parliament more executive authority and make Berber an official language in Morocco, alongside Arabic. The proposals will be put to a referendum on 1 July. King Mohammed, 47, acceded to the throne in 1999 following the death of his father, Hassan II, and now heads the Arab world’s longest-serving dynasty. The king had promised in March to introduce “comprehensive constitutional reform” after anti-government protests inspired by that elsewhere in the region. In his speech broadcast King Mohammed outlined his proposals and urged Moroccans to back them. He also added that if reforms were approved, they would “constitute a decisive historic transition in the process of the building of the rule of law and democratic institutions, and in entrenching the principles and mechanisms of good governance”. The independence of the judiciary and efforts to tackle corruption would be boosted, he added, and the reforms would guarantee freedom of expression and gender rights. King also said that his own powers would be reduced “as much as possible”, with the prime minister gaining the authority to appoint government officials and dissolve parliament. The king said he would remain as the supreme commander of the armed forces, and retain control over security. A new article within the constitution formalized his role as the highest religious authority in the country. Driss Lachgar, minister in charge of relations with parliament, called the draft “a real revolution”. Kings speech was received by Moroccans by mixed reactions.
Report by Reuben