Saturday, October 21

Moroccan king says elections to be held soon

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Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has vowed to hold parliamentary elections soon, though without specifying when, as pro-democracy activists press for further reform in the wake of the July 1 constitutional referendum.

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AFP – Morocco’s King Mohammed VI called Saturday for parliamentary elections to be held soon, in his first speech since a July 1 referendum overwhelmingly approved curbing some of his prerogatives.”We must begin by the election of a new house of representatives… so that a new head of government can be named from the party which comes first,” he said.

In his annual speech from the throne the king warned that any delay threatened the “dynamic of confidence” produced by the reforms and the opportunities they offered.

“Political parties are asked to redouble their efforts in favour of the reconciliation of citizens, particularly the young, with political action,” he said.

The political climate is tense in Morocco as the king attempts to prevent any contagion of the Arab Spring protests that have sent shockwaves across the region.

Yet far from nipping democratic aspirations in the bud, the July 1 vote fuelled popular demands for greater social justice.

Thousands of people gathered in several cities on July 17 for rallies demanding more sweeping reforms of the Arab world’s oldest reigning monarchy.

The date of the upcoming elections is a subject of regular negotiations between the interior ministry and the country’s political parties but has remained undetermined so far.

Morocco’s youth-based February 20 movement however has called for fresh rallies on Sunday to continue pressing for a parliamentary monarchy.

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