RABAT, June 16, 2011 (AFP)
Key events in the north African state of Morocco, where King Mohammed VI is due on Friday to respond to the demands of protesters inspired by the “Arab Spring”.
– January 14: The Arab revolt scores its first major victory when Tunisian president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali is forced to leave power and flee his north African country. Less than a month later, on February 11, the leader of Egypt, the biggest Arab country of all, Hosni Mubarak, is ousted.
– February 3: A group of young Moroccans publishes an appeal on the Internet site Facebook calling for reform protests on February 20. The resulting upsurge quickly becomes known as the “February 20 movement”.
– February 20: Thousands of Moroccans join the protest marches, with some 4,000 in the main city of Casablanca and between 3,000 and 4,000 in the capital Rabat. Riots break out in some cities and six people die when a bank burns down during protests in the northern town of Al Hoceima.
– March 10: With protests continuing, King Mohammed VI goes on television to announce “comprehensive constitutional reform” which would reduce his own sweeping powers and provide “expanded individual and collective liberties and the reinforcement of human rights”.
– March 20: New nationwide reform protests attract even bigger crowds than those a month earlier.
– April 28: A massive bomb blasts kills 17 people in a cafe frequented by foreign tourists in the resort city of Marrakesh. The authorities arrest seven suspects and blame the attack on the north African branch of Al-Qaeda.
– May 30: The European Union’s executive Commission urges the Moroccan authorities to refrain from using force against protesters.
– June 2: A young protester dies in hospital four days after being injured during clashes with police in the town of Safi.
– June 9: A commission set up to study changes to the constitution says it will recommend a major shift of powers from the king to the prime minister, an independent judiciary and the declaration of Berber as an official language alongside Arabic.
– Thursday June 15: The royal palace says the king will make a new speech to the nation on Friday.