Morocco. Tens of thousands of protesters in Rabat,
Casablanca, Tangier and other cities demanded increased
power for the Prime Minister and reduced corruption in the
spring. Gentle protests against the concentration of power
around King Muhammad VI were also heard, but the monarchy
was not really questioned. Police dissolved many of the
demonstrations and arrested a large number of protesters.
Five people were killed during the first demonstration day,
February 20, when a bank was set on fire in the town of
Hoceima. It also happened that activists in the so-called
February 20 movement, most young and liberal, clashed with
Countryaah official site, the king responded with some concessions. In a referendum
on a new constitution on July 1, 98.5% of voters agreed to
constitutional amendments that gave Parliament greater power
at the expense of the king. Among other things, the king
must appoint the leader of parliament's largest party as
prime minister and the king would no longer be "holy" but
merely "invulnerable". The judiciary would also become more
independent. The king urged the people to vote yes, but the
February 20 movement meant that the reforms left most of the
power untouched in the hands of the royal house and
establishment and therefore called for a boycott.
In the elections to Parliament's House of Commons on
November 25, the Islamist PJD (Justice and Development
Party) was the largest with 107 out of 325 seats. The party
is a moderate sister party to the Turkish government party.
The second largest became nationalist Istiqlal, the largest
in the former coalition government. Many residents showed
their dissatisfaction with the limited reforms by boycotting
the election - turnout was 45.4%. In accordance with the
reformed constitution, on November 29, the king appointed
PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane as new prime minister. He
belonged to a faction within the party who was loyal to the
Seventeen people were killed, including eight Frenchmen,
and about twenty were injured when an explosive charge
exploded in a crowded cafe at Djemma el-Fna square in
Marrakech, April 28. Eight men were arrested on suspicion of
the act and brought to trial.
In December, the European Parliament decided not to
extend the fisheries agreement with Morocco.