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Will Morocco’s King Cave In To Change?


By Mohyeddin Sajedi

Morocco’s King Mohamed VI promised the country’s people in a televised address on Wednesday that fundamental changes are on the way.

His seven-point plan for moderation of the constitution has satisfied some traditional oppositionists, but a part of the Moroccan society has other demands, which could force the king into retreat.

Although the country holds elections and has some parties in the parliament, which are considered the opposition to the government, the key decision maker is always the king. Appointment of the prime minister, the cabinet members and even low-ranking authorities is within the monarch’s sphere of authority.


He even interferes in the very inconsequential of affairs. Like in many other tumultuous Arab states, a say in the country’s destiny has so far eluded the Moroccans. The country’s security apparatus is very powerful and, like its former counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt, has been able to silence the oppositionists and imprison them.

There are many stories in the air about the disappearance and torture of the former Moroccan monarch’s opponents. Some of these involve Western, especially French, security services. The standing problem of the Western Sahara also heavily costs Rabat. Its competition with Algeria and several times of approaching the state of war with the country have channeled a major part of Morocco’s income to the military sector, thus taxing the social budgets.

Similar to other Arab monarchical rules, Mohamed VI is trying to tie his political position to religious concepts. He calls himself Amir al-Mu’minin [the Leader of the Faithful — the title of Imam Ali, the first imam of the Shia Muslims] and expects all the Muslim of the world to pledge allegiance to him. Lack of oversight of the happenings inside the Moroccan court has awarded the political power club great wealth and the king and other royals have been able to fatten their accounts at home and abroad.

In his new plan, he has singled out the ethnic culture element of Amazigh and has insisted on the plural nature of the country’s cultural and social identity. The Amazigh ethnic group lives in the Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya and seeks to be recognized as an independent cultural and social identity.

Other parts of the plan are guaranteeing of individual and social freedoms, respect for the human rights, independence of the judiciary, reinforcement of the constitutional council and non-reliance of the government branches on each other. The king has promised for the country to hold pure and free elections, the government to be the choice of the parliamentary majority and the prime minister to be the choice of the party, which wins the majority.

The monarch has excelled his Jordanian relative and decided to implement reforms before revolution reaches his palace. He did not specify, when he would live up to his promises. The deceiving and attractive points of his plan take not too short a while and to ensure the public, he has to take some immediate measures.

Mustapha Ramid, founding member of Morocco’s Justice and Development Party (PJD), said that the activists have been waiting for main headlines, which are mentioned by the king.

He believes that Mohamed VI should dismiss people around himself, who are accused of political and financial corruption. About political corruption, he means “Authenticity and Modernity Party” that is established by one of close friends of the king.

Moroccan youths demand formation of a committee to write constitution like Egypt and Tunisia. Said bin Jebeli, head of Morocco’s blogger association and opener of “February 20” web page in Facebook, believes that the king has ignored important issues, such as the continuation of political prisoners in jail, mixture of power with wealth, creating jobs for youths, and immediate action to cope with economic corruption, in his plan.

Unemployment of university graduates is a common problem in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria and it will result to dissatisfaction of more young people, which showed their power in the February 20 demonstration.

He also criticized the king’s plan for handing the amendment of the constitution to a special committee that will be appointed by the king in the future while the young people want a committee elected by people to do the job. Jebeli said the king’s proposal may cause people to wait for short term and influences the people, but they would not be patient very much.

One of the main demands of people in February 20 was the transfer of power from the kingdom to the parliament. However, the king has reiterated on the strengthening of parties and the parliament and has said that the prime minister would be elected by the majority of the parliament; the king’s influence is so much that he can create the majority of the parliament by his current power and appoint a premier from his side.

The Moroccan king has not directly mentioned to decrease the power of his kingdom. Some of his proposal’s titles mention improving the parliament and organizations that supervise the public sector, but Mohamed VI still sees himself in a place higher than the Moroccan society and he is not ready to accept conditional kingdom and the king as a formality position, not ruling the country.

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