RABAT, June 17, 2011 (AFP)
RABAT, June 17, 2011 (AFP)
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI addresses the nation Friday when he will unveil reform proposals likely to include curbs on his wide-ranging powers after months of demonstrations to demand change.
The king’s televised speech will begin at 9:00 pm (2000 GMT), the palace announced Thursday, without specifying the topic.
The address comes a week after the king was handed proposals from a commission he appointed in March to draw up constitutional reforms after the nationwide demonstrations inspired by other popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world.
An official said on condition of anonymity that Mohammed VI would use his speech to outline the proposed amendments, expected to be put to a national referendum early next month.
“The king is going to present the broad lines of the constitutional revision which has been submitted to political parties and will be made public after the speech,” he said Thursday.
He “will also call for a ‘yes’ vote for the plan to revise the current constitution,” the source told AFP.
The 47-year-old monarch, who took over in 1999, holds virtually all power in the Muslim north African country, and he is also its top religious authority as the Commander of the Faithful.
He announced on March 9, just weeks after the first protests in Morocco following others in the region, that he was prepared to allow major reforms, appointing the commission to propose changes.
The keenly awaited reforms are expected to transform the kingdom’s political system into a constitutional monarchy, as demanded by the February 20 Movement named after the date of its first nationwide pro-reform protests.
The youth-led group has brought thousands of people onto the streets in unprecedented calls for change, on the back of uprisings that toppled the autocratic rulers of Tunisia and Egypt in January and February.
A commission member told AFP the proposals include a major transfer of powers from the king to the prime minister and the independence of the judiciary.
The proposals also say Islam would remain the state religion but freedom of belief would be guaranteed, a step that could meet with resistance from Islamists.
Some have called for the prime minister to take over as the head of the government’s executive branch.
The February 20 Movement wants political responsibility to be handed out at the ballot box and not by the king, as well as control of the security forces and respect of individual freedoms, Rabat branch member Aba Dila told AFP on Thursday.
“It is normal that these reforms would be keenly awaited: between the royal speech of March 9, during which he promised change, and today, three months have passed without a single significant political act,” said analyst Pierre Vermeren.
“It is a big event for Morocco,” said Lahcen Daoudi, president of the Islamist opposition group Justice and Development. “It is like a plane coming out an area of turbulence,” he said.