By Samir Bennis
By Samir Bennis
Morocco World News
June 12, 2011
After almost three months of intense meetings and negotiations with all political parties, civil society organizations and other stakeholders, the panel tasked with reforming the Constitution has presented its proposals to King Mohamed VI. This draft Constitution, which will eventually be submitted to a referendum in a few weeks, is likely to put Morocco on the right path towards building a genuine democratic system.
According to the draft constitution, the King will be the supreme representative of the State, instead of the Supreme representative of the Nation as stipulated by the Constitution in force today. Another popular demand has also been met. For the first time in Morocco’s history, Amazigh will be considered as an official language on equal footing with Arabic.
Other changes will also take place, at the forefront of which is the disappearance of the post of Prime Minister. The latter will be replaced by a President of the Government, who will be elected from the political party that wins the parliamentary elections. The president of government will appoint the Walis, Governors, Ambassadors and the Executive Directors of state-owned companies. He will do so with the consent of the sovereign. The President of the Government will also chair the Council of Ministers with a specific agenda proposed and set in advance to the King’s approval.
This president has power over the Ministers he appoints, whom he can dismiss at anytime.
The power of Parliament is also strengthened with the House of Representatives playing a prominent role, whereas the House of Counselors (la Chambre des Conseillers) will be limited to territorial representation as indicated by King Mohamed VI in his speech on March 9th.
The powers of the House of Representatives will be further strengthened, as it will legislate on forty areas instead of its current nine. Similarly a parliamentary commission of inquiry will be formed with only a fifth of Representatives in favor, and one third of the Chamber will be enough to pass a motion of no confidence to bring down the government. According to the current constitution, the absolute majority of the House of Representatives is needed to bring the government down. As regards the balance of power in the House of Representatives, the opposition should preside over at least two standing committees.
The judiciary is also not excluded from reforms. The Minister of Justice will no longer chair the Supreme Council of Magistracy (CSM) on behalf of King, as is the case currently according to the 1996-Constitution. It is the sovereign who will discharge this function. The newly created mediator or the chairperson of the National Council of Human Rights will also play a role in the Supreme Council of the Magistracy. To encourage the advancement of women, the authors of the new Constitution have also proposed that women judges join the SCM.
The new Constitution has taken into account one of the recommendations of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, namely the establishment of a National Security Council. Pending an Organic Law, the Council will bring together the Prime Minister along with the other Ministers and other dignitaries. The NSC will be a kind of center for strategic studies, a platform of ??contact and dialogue to accompany the action of the State.
Even Article19, at the center of heated debate since the start of protests in Morocco, will undergo some changes. The sovereign will retain the title of Commander of the Faithful, linked to religious and historical legitimacy. However, unlike past practice, the Dahirs (decrees) that the King will issue will be limited to the religious sphere. All other legislation will be the Parliament’s prerogative.