Saturday, March 12, 2011

Constitutional reform in Morocco: Is it enough?

After the end of the tensions in Morocco and after the authorities received the warning handed out by Moroccan youth, be it through protests or through political activism, the response was quick and stunning.

Mohamed VI, who has been missing from the political scene since the beginning of the rise of the 20th February protests call, has made an important and unprecedented step by what is now commonly called the revolutionary speech of the King.

King Mohammed VI

Commented as the first time recently where the King has acted as a leader of the nation, the speech had a huge positive impact not only in the national scene where a good response was issued by both the organizers of the 20th February protests and their opponents, but also globally where the international community applauded the genuine and realistic approach the king led in dealing with the demands of the people.

Following are the major reforms the King declared in his speech:

1. Enshrine in the Constitution the rich, variegated yet unified character of the Moroccan identity, including the Amazigh component as a core element and common asset belonging to all Moroccans;

2. Consolidate the rule of law and the institution-based State; expand the scope of collective and individual freedoms and guarantee their practice; promote all types of human rights - political, economic, social and cultural rights as well as those relating to development and the environment - especially by inscribing, in the Constitution, the Justice and Reconciliation Commission’s well-founded recommendations as well as Morocco’s international commitments in this domain.

3. Elevate the judiciary to the status of an independent power and reinforce the prerogatives of the Constitutional Council to enhance the primacy of the Constitution, of the rule of law and of equality before the law;

4. Strengthen the principle of separation of powers, with the relating checks and balances, and promote the democratization, revamping and rationalization of institutions through the following:
* A parliament emerging from free, fair elections, and in which the House of Representatives plays the prominent role; expand the scope of legislative action and provide parliament with new powers that enable it to discharge its representative, legislative and regulatory mission;
* An elected government which reflects the will of the people, through the ballot box, and which enjoys the confidence of the majority of the House of Representatives;
* Confirming the appointment of the Prime Minister from the political party which wins the most seats in parliamentary election, as attested by election results;
* Consolidating the status of the Prime Minister as the head of an effective executive branch, who is fully responsible for government, civil service and the implementation of the government’s agenda;
* Enshrining, in the Constitution, the Governing Council as an institution and specifying its prerogatives;

5. Shore up constitutional mechanisms for providing guidance to citizens, by invigorating the role of political parties within the framework of an effective pluralistic system, and by bolstering the standing of parliamentary opposition as well as the role of civil society;

6. Reinforce mechanisms for boosting moral integrity in public life, and establish a link between the exercise of power and the holding of public office with oversight and accountability;

7. Enshrine in the Constitution the institutions concerned with good governance, human rights and protection of liberties.

Here is the speech made by the King Mohamed VI the 9th of March with english subtitles:

The reforms stated below are all what a democratic and just state can hope for, yet the realization of these reforms is the hardest task a government can have. How can pledge for a fair election of representatives and a wider power assigned to the Prime Minister when we lack the people good enough for those positions?

How can we talk about a process of instituting a constitutional monarchy when there are no defined steps to do so, no clear position from the royal family on how to reach that state of constitutional royalty, especially that the royal family is declared to be one of the sacred pillars of the Moroccan identity?

The issue is not about remodeling the system or the government, but it is more about educating people to produce the right leaders for the right assignments. We have a paralyzed government not because we had unfair elections, but because people didn’t vote since there is no one qualified enough to lead the country in his development process.  

Once we start the revolution in people’s mind, once the Moroccans are all educated and aware of the importance of the political process, once we secure dignity to people through improving the socio-economic situation of the country, then, the system will recover by itself, the people will be smart enough to know to whom to vote, people will have secured financial situation and will not think about becoming corrupted judiciary and monetary, people will…. And so on.

Political empowerment is a direct impact of socio-economic development, so if we are to lead our country through the revolutionary storm of the Arab uprising, we need to secure the dignity of our people who protest not because they have an undemocratic regime, but because that regime didn’t provide them with food and social justice.

In conclusion, is the constitutional reform declared by the King a positive step? Definitely yes, yet it needs to be completed by a clear draft of a socio-economic system which ensure the welfare of the community and where all Moroccans can live with dignity and say Hamdolillah happily, not saying it because they are oppressed and have nothing else to state but their despair.
Mohamed Amine Belarbi 

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