March 10, 2011
Royal Moroccan Reforms
I actually caught this on the Sats last night. Have to say M6 looked unhealthy, but a decent enough speech all in all, one does come to appreciate his relative brevity and focus after the blowhard performances of the Ben Ali, Mubarek and the like. It's also a nice reflexion on focus (it isn't a Royal habit to be making lots of speeches, saves it up for when it counts)
Some thoughts: First, from my POV, proof is in the implementation pudding, but at least the high-level declarations re constitutional change in implementing an elected rather than royally appointed PM seem helpful. A selection of items from the wires
Moroccan king pledges reforms as neighbors battle uprisings - CNN.com
The Moroccan king has pledged sweeping constitutional reforms as neighboring nations face violent uprisings demanding more democracy.It's worth noting that M6 had promised (and in fact followed through) to appoint the last PM on the basis of the elections. Unfortun. that person turned out to be a total dud (even allowing for the limited margin of maneuver he had).
In a rare television appearance on Wednesday, King Mohamed VI said the reforms would include a prime minister elected from the party that wins the most seats in parliament.
The prime minister will "be the head of an effective executive branch, who is fully responsible for government, civil service and the implementation of the government's agenda," the king said.
Reforms will also promote human rights and gender equality, and improve the economic, social and cultural aspects, according to the king.
He highlighted seven key elements of his constitutional amendments. They include expanded collective and individual freedoms, an elevated judiciary, a stronger emphasis on democracy and a parliament drawn from free and fair elections.
Judicial independence, if effective, would be a very useful development. The free and fair elections, I am rather more doubtful on, but one has to start working on political culture some time, so...
In any case, Morocco is relatively ahead of the curve as compared with the Neighbourhood.
The king unveiled plans for constitutional reforms including a popularly elected prime minister with real powers, instead of a royal appointee, addressing the nation for the first time since pro-reform protests last month.Errr, the primary state TV did the whole thing actually, not extracts.
The country's two television channels rebroadcast large extracts of the address throughout the morning Thursday, accompanied by mostly positive commentary.
AFP: Moroccans welcome king's reform promises
In Rabat manager Naima Glaf told AFP he hoped the announcement would see an overhaul of the constitution.....
"We want a constitution that breaks with the one we have now, a real separation of powers and a more powerful prime minister who can be held accountable," he said.
"I think he did not mention concrete reforms like the fight against corruption in the circles of power, social injustices, and the unfairness of the access to administrative jobs, which are monopolised by certain families," he said.This last item would not properly be something for the King to address re constitutional reform, as opening up the field of competition should be a byproduct, not something from the Royal hand. The comment of course refers to the Fassi elite and the connected oligarchy.
Opposition Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) leader Abdelilah Benkirane said late Wednesday that Mohammed had "reacted positively to the demands made by the parties and young people".
The almost surprised part is slyly amusing. One thing that makes the Islamist party more attractive than the others is that they're often more interesting. The main secular parties are largely BORING.
"We are almost surprised," he said.
BBC News - Protests across the Middle East and North Africa
1502: Meanwhile Hisham Almiraat, a Moroccan blogger based in France, tells the BBC World Service that Wednesday's speech by King Mohammed was "a step in the right direction, but there are many grey areas". At the centre of the Moroccan opposition's demands, he says, "is the constitutional reform that the Moroccans have been calling for for so long. If Morocco would become a parliamentary system, everything else would change. What we have now is a constitution that provides the king with absolute powers. It makes accountability, which is a basic principle of democracy, impossible in Morocco."Morocco king announces constitutional reform plan | Top News | Reuters
Saeed Binjebli, an organiser of the youth-led movement for change, said the speech should limit protests in the short-term but social woes could fuel more protests.
"This was a very bold speech," he said. "The king responded favourably to all our demands on the constitutional front."
I should note that I had it from good sources well before this that a number of these items were being chewed over well-before the Arab Revolts. The main effect seems to be to have shaken things loose and upend the people arguing for " time to digest" reforms.
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Excellent synopsis from different sources. As someone who will be in Morocco in about one week, I followed the February 20th protests and its aftermath pretty closely. All the proposed reforms seem rosy and indeed admirable, but we'll see what transpires as the rubber meets the road. Thus far, I am impressed with both the King's response and the Moroccan citizen's peaceful means, in lieu of out-of-control chaos and violence.
Posted by: Scheidtster at March 10, 2011 04:26 PM
Welcome, Morocco has been part of my "portfolio" for a long time.
I see you're coming for Peace Corps. Interesting. I would not be concerned overall, the Moroccan Gov / King have been out ahead on reforms (most successfully economic, but also political) for a number of years. They have breathing space. Most of the violence that occurred was the typical football hooligans from the slums. That however is a danger sign that there are pressures deep down. But the middle classes and the stable working classes are not at a point of explosion like Back East.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 11, 2011 03:22 AM