Moroccans turn out in record numbers to approve new constitution, says government

RABAT, Morocco – Moroccans on Friday overwhelmingly approved a new constitution their king says will bring the country much-needed democratic reform, the Interior Ministry announced.

The 98.94 per cent approval rating and 72.56 per cent turnout appeared to indicate strong belief by Moroccans in the king’s promises of reform just months after hundreds of thousands marched throughout the North African country calling for more democracy.

HangZhou Night Net

The huge turnout Friday announced by the government was in stark contrast to the 37 per cent that voted in 2007 parliamentary elections, and evoked some skepticism among pro-democracy activists.

“Now we have become a banana monarchy,” said Elaabadila Chbihna of the pro-democracy February 20 movement, whose demonstrations over past months sparked the King Mohammed VI’s decision to amend the constitution. “I am very skeptical, by 2 p.m. very few people had been to the polling stations.”

The amended constitution gives more power to the parliament and the prime minister and guarantees the independence of the judiciary, while still leaving control in the hands of the king.

The February 20 movement had called for a boycott, saying the new constitution was drawn up without consulting the public and left too much power in the king’s hands.

In Washington Friday, a State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said that the United States welcomed the peaceful conduct of the referendum during what it called a period of profound change for Morocco.

“We welcome the referendum as an important step in Morocco’s democratic development. We feel this referendum did allow the people to express their views” on some of the issues outlined in King Mohammed’s reforms.

Comments are closed.