Moroccans vote on king's reforms

By REUTERS
July 1, 2011 12:36

 
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RABAT - Moroccans voted on Friday in a referendum on a revised constitution offered by King Mohammed to placate "Arab Spring" street protesters, with the "yes" camp tipped to win despite boycott calls by opponents.

The new charter explicitly grants the government executive powers, but retains the king at the helm of the army, religious authorities and the judiciary and still allows him to dissolve parliament, though not unilaterally as is the case now.

That falls far short of the demands of the "February 20" protest movement, which wants a parliamentary monarchy where the king's powers would be kept in check by elected lawmakers.

The 47-year-old ruler has had some success in repairing the legacy of human right abuses, high illiteracy and poverty he inherited after his late father's 38-year rule ended in 1999.

But while his personal popularity is seen swinging many voters in favor of the reforms, the margin of victory could be eroded by resentment at what is seen as a wide disparity between rich and poor, and a sense of alienation from the political elite.

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