RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco's King Mohammed promised a new democratic constitution on Friday that would devolve some of his powers to parliament and the government, adding Moroccans would be able to vote for the changes in a July 1 referendum.
The reformed constitution will shift some powers to government and hold officials more accountable, but the king will retain his grip on security, the army and religion, according to a draft seen by Reuters earlier in the day.
Addressing the nation in a TV address, Mohammed said he would vote for the new charter and urged Moroccans to do likewise...
...The final draft of the reformed constitution explicitly grants the government executive powers, although the king would keep exclusive control over military and religious fields and pick a prime minister from the party that wins the polls.
Ministers, ambassadors and provincial governors, who are interior ministry representatives, would be proposed by the prime minister although the king has to approve the choices.
"The constitution gives the head of government (prime minister) the power to propose and dismiss cabinet members, to steer and coordinate government action, and to supervise public service," Mohammed said in his speech, but he added that he was "the trustworthy guide and supreme arbiter."
"Appointments in the military remain an exclusive, sovereign prerogative of the King, Supreme Commander and Chief of Staff of the Royal Armed Forces," he said.
Further, the prime minister would be able to dissolve the lower house of parliament after consulting the king, house speaker and head of the constitutional court.
The new constitution would "enshrine citizenship-based monarchy and the citizen king," Mohammed said.
Najib Chawki, an activist from the February 20 Movement, said the constitutional reform draft "does not respond to the essence of our demands which is establishing a parliamentary monarchy. We are basically moving from a de facto absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy."
The movement has called for the creation in Morocco of a parliamentary monarchy, an end to the influence of the king's inner circle, the dismissal of the government, and for officials and businessmen it accuses of corruption to be put on trial...
...Under the proposed reforms, the king would still be able to dissolve parliament but only after consulting the chairman of a newly introduced Constitutional Court, of which half the members will be appointed by the king.
The reform will introduce a Supreme Security Council which will be chaired by the king as a platform for consultations on domestic and foreign security issues.
It will include among its members the prime minister, speakers of the bi-cameral parliament and senior army officers.
The reformed constitution also recognizes Tamazight as an official language alongside Arabic, a move which looks set to appease Amazigh activists within February 20 Movement. Amazigh are North Africa's original inhabitants before Arabs conquered it in the seventh century to spread Islam.
July 4, 2011 update: On July 1, 2011, 98% of voters (with 94% of polls reporting) in a national referendum approved King Mohammed VI's new constitution. Moroccan Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui reported a turnout of 72.65% of eligible voters, with 30% of the voters under the age of 35.