Morocco King’s Reforms “Not Enough”; Feb 20 Movement Calls for Protests

Morocco’s King Mohamed VI has announced reforms to rewrite the country’s constitution and grant greater powers to elected politicians, including the prime minister and parliament. Activists in the youth-based February 20 movement immediately countered that the reforms are “not enough” — are indeed only cosmetic and do not allow for a “true separation of powers” — and have called for more protests on Sunday, says the BBC. Protesters are calling for “a truly democratic constitution and a parliamentary monarchy.”

Under the proposed reforms, the king still retains control over the military as well as other key power. He will still choose the prime minister, but must do so “from the party that wins elections to what, up until now, has been a largely rubber-stamp parliament,” according to the Guardian, which points out some additional limitations to the reform:

And analysts pointed out that while the prime minister would be in charge of domestic policy, he does so with the king’s permission and with the monarch still able to pass his own decrees.

“He is sharing some executive powers with the PM [but] still retains significant ones,” said the respected, if anonymous, Maghreb Blog on its Twitter feed. “The changes do nothing to his real discretionary, religious and military powers.”

The prime minister will also be considered the “president of the government” and be able to dissolve parliament.

The king also retains religious power. In Muslim Morocco, the king is the highest religious authority in the country. The proposed new constitution formalizes him in this role as the commander of the faithful with one slight change: The term “sacred” is no longer being used in the regard to the king, who is still considered “inviolable.”

The king also proposed to officially recognise Berber or Amazig as an official language, alongside Arabic. The Berbers make up some 60 percent of Morocco’s population and were its first inhabitants, but say they are widely discriminated against.

After the new proposals were announced by King Mohammed in a television address, the streets of Rabat were filled with cars displaying Moroccan flags and honking their horns. Some have welcomed the king’s speech and, noting that the proposals are “a major advance,” said that “the kingdom of Morocco has joined the list of democratic countries.” Nonetheless, says the Guardian:

Najib Chawki, a February 20 activist, said the constitutional reform draft “does not respond to the essence of our demands which is establishing a parliamentary monarchy. We are basically moving from a de facto absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy”.

Activists claimed that the reform programme initially introduced by King Mohamed, who brought in greater freedoms and improved women’s rights when he inherited the throne 12 years ago, had effectively ground to a halt.

Activists also reported on Twitter that at least one pro-democracy reformer had been attacked by pro-government supporters. 

Protests in Morocco have been mostly peaceful so far. The proposals are to be put to a referendum on July 1, just two weeks away. As the Guardian reports, 44 percent of Moroccans are illiterate, so it is questionable about how fully all of the population will be informed in time for the referendum. 


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Photo taken May 10, 2011, of the Feb 20 movement planning new protests by Magharebia.


Siusaidh C.
Susan C6 years ago

May the monarchy be reasonable and 'the West' butt out. The carnage going on in Libya must make those - rightly - seeking reform very cautious not to provide an excuse for intervention. Fortunately for Morocco, it doesn't seem to have any oil.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago

When are these tyrants going to realize that we live in a different world and their lies no longer ring true.

Beth S.
Beth S6 years ago

The country with the best chance of becoming a democracy is Tunisia. The rest do not have most of the preconditions it would take, and will probably be turned over to anti-West, anti-U.S. hardcore Islamists.

We shouldn't be supporting any other takeovers until we know how much of a chance there is that real democracy can take root.

Obama has been doing a horrible job on this count. He's likely to be considered a worse foreign policy president than his predecessor, Bush. I can't believe we have two such naive presidents back to back.

Then again, sometimes I wonder if Obama is doing this on purpose....

ReElectBarack Obama
Past Member 6 years ago

Thank you.

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

I wish them the best. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Thanks Kristina.

Wayne M.
Wayne M6 years ago

The first step would be to ensure the military is clearly under the control of democratically elected civilian officials. The second step would be for a clear separation of religion and state. While it is fair for the Muslim faith to expect the King will practice his faith, actual leadership of the Muslim faith-- or any religion in any country-- must be separated from state and political leadership.

Danny W.
Danny Wilson6 years ago

Here's hoping for the best.....

Bruce V.

Morocco was the first country to recognize the U.S. and I think Americans should play a larger role in bringing education to that country; while upholding the Islamic faith but maybe not Shiria Law.

Bruce S.
Bruce S6 years ago

"44 percent of Moroccans are illiterate"

They need to go slowly and not let it turn into another Libya.