King Mohammed VI of Morocco on Wednesday announced plans for a series of constitutional reforms [text], which, if enacted, would result in more power being given to elected officials, as well as an independent judiciary. Under the plan, the prime minister would be chosen based on the political party elected to a majority of seats in parliament, more power would be granted to the parliament and local officials would also be granted more power through a "regionalization program." Under the regionalization program, officials would be elected to regional councils through a direct vote, and the councils would be responsible for governing the affairs of the region. The monarch stressed the importance of regional equality, stating:
Our ultimate objective is to strengthen the foundations for a Moroccan regionalization system throughout the Kingdom, particularly in the Moroccan Sahara provinces. It should be based on good governance which guarantees a new, more equitable system for sharing not only powers, but also resources between the central authority and the regions. What I do not want is a two-speed regionalization, with fortunate regions that have the resources required for their progress on the one hand, and underprivileged regions lacking the requisites for development, on the other.The plan would also promote the participation of women in the political process, and it was noted that "the law should favour equal access by women and men to elected office." In order to begin the reform process, Mohammed announced the formation of a committee, which will meet with the various factions within the country and formulate specific language for the constitutional reforms based on the guidelines set forth by the monarch. According to the king, the committee is to make their recommendations by June, and the constitutional reforms will then be put to a vote in a national referendum.
The announcement of the constitutional reforms comes less than a month after thousands of Moroccans demonstrated [AFP report] across the country, demanding limits on the power of the monarch, as well as more sweeping political reform. Similar protests have occurred recently throughout the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder], and have resulted in the resignations of Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [JURIST reports]. Protests continue in Libya, where leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his inner circle have been accused of perpetrating violence against protesters [JURIST report]. Last month, the UN Security Council [official website] voted unanimously to impose sanctions [JURIST report] on Libya and to refer ongoing repression of demonstrators in the country to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] has announced that the ICC will fully investigate allegations of crimes against humanity in Libya and that the ICC will not grant immunity [JURIST reports] to any person perpetrating those crimes.