Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

  • Air Algérie crash: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

Africa

Moroccan protesters to seek curbs on king's powers

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-02-20

Thousands of Moroccans are expected to take to the streets Sunday to demand the government's dismissal and restrictions on the king's powers, in the latest example of protest movements sweeping the Arab world.

REUTERS - Thousands of Moroccans are expected to join nationwide protests on Sunday to demand that King Mohammed hand some of his powers to a newly elected government and make the justice system more independent.

The street protests, initiated by the February 20 Movement for Change which has attracted 19,000 Facebook fans after revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, will also urge the king to dismiss the coalition government and dissolve parliament.

The revolutions, especially in neighbour Tunisia, have brought the issue of constitutional reform back onto the agenda after a crackdown that followed suicide bombings in 2003 and the rapid rise of a political party led by a former security official close to the king.

On the eve of the protest, a Moroccan youth movement said it was pulling out because of disagreements with Islamists and leftists.

But Saeed Bin-Jebli, a spokesman for the organisers, said "thousands are expected to join the protests in main cities", including Marrakesh, the country's top tourist destination. Police in the capital Rabat have asked citizens not to park their cars on main streets to spare them potential damage.

Morocco is officially a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. But the constitution empowers the king to dissolve the legislature, impose a state of emergency and have a key say in government appointments including the prime minister.

Never since his enthronement in 1999 has King Mohammed's role come under so much scrutiny. The turnout for the protests and the slogans that will be chanted will be closely watched to gauge the popularity of a monarch who shuns domestic media and press conferences.

Officials say Morocco's commitment to reform has never been as palpable as it has under King Mohammed who -- as a member of Alaouite Dynasty that has been ruling Morocco for some 350 years and claims descent from the Prophet Mohammad -- is the head of state and is considered sacred by the constitution.

The call for the protest has been portrayed as a healthy sign by the authorities. The government has worked since the king's enthronement to repair, with mixed success, a bleak legacy of human right abuses, widespread poverty and illiteracy left after the 38-year rule of his father King Hassan.

But Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar urged citizens to boycott the march, warning that any "slip may in the space of few weeks cost us what we have achieved over the last 10 years".

Credit rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Fitch have said Morocco is the least likely of the Maghreb states to be affected by the wave of popular unrest that has swept the region.

But officials have voiced concern that Algeria and the Polisario Front, which wants independence for the disputed Western Sahara, may use upheavals sweeping some Arab countries to stir unrest in the disputed desert region. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara in 1975.

 

Date created : 2011-02-20

COMMENT(S)