Plans for political reform in Morocco
King Mohammed VI
The Royal Palace, Rabat 09 March 2011
Praise be to God May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin
My loyal subjects,
My address to you today will concern the launching of the next phase of the advanced regionalization process, the impact such a development can have in terms of strengthening our democratic development model and the substantial revision of the Constitution it implies. The latter should serve as the cornerstone of the new, comprehensive reforms I intend to initiate, as part of the continuing interaction with all of the nation’s stakeholders.
I should like, first, to praise the report of the Advisory Committee on Regionalization. On 3 January 2010, I had asked the Committee to prepare a general conception for an advanced Moroccan regionalization model.
In this regard, I wish to commend the work done by the chair and members of the Committee, and to praise the constructive contribution of political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations to this particularly important project.
Consistent with what I had announced in my address on 20 August 2010, commemorating the anniversary of the Revolution the King and the People, I call on everyone to continue contributing to this general plan to bring it to maturity, through a wide-ranging, constructive national debate.
The Committee proposed a gradual approach, namely to institute advanced regionalization through the enactment of a law, under the current institutional framework, until the right conditions are there for the constitutionalization of regionalization.
However, considering our accomplishments in the area of promoting democracy, I personally consider that Morocco is in a position today to start enshrining advanced regionalization in the Constitution.
I have opted for this confident, forward-looking initiative to make sure broad regionalization will stem from the direct free will of the people, through a constitutional referendum.
Ever since my accession to the Throne, I have sought to bring about the right conditions for thorough institutional reform. Accordingly, I have decided that the constitutionalization of regionalization should be based on several key guidelines, including the following:
- Give the region its rightful place in the Constitution as a territorial entity, within the framework of the unity of the State, the nation and the territory, keeping in mind the requirements of balance and national solidarity at inter- and intraregional levels;
- Stipulate that regional councils shall be elected through direct universal suffrage, and that regional affairs shall be run in accordance with democratic principles;
- Empower the presidents of regional councils - instead of governors and walis - to implement council decisions;
- Promote the participation of women in the management of regional affairs in particular, and the exercise of political rights in general; in this respect, the law should favour equal access by women and men to elected office;
- Review the composition and powers of the House of Councillors thoroughly and in such a way as to enhance the regions’ representation in the House. As regards the representation of trade unions and professional organizations, it remains guaranteed by several institutions, particularly the Economic and Social Council, the aim being to rationalize the performance of institutional bodies.
Our ultimate objective is to strengthen the foundations for a Moroccan regionalization system throughout the Kingdom, particularly in the Moroccan Sahara provinces. It should be based on good governance which guarantees a new, more equitable system for sharing not only powers, but also resources between the central authority and the regions.
What I do not want is a ‘two-speed’ regionalization, with fortunate regions that have the resources required for their progress on the one hand, and underprivileged regions lacking the requisites for development, on the other.
My loyal subjects,
To ensure the efficiency of the regionalization process, I have decided that it should be part of a comprehensive constitutional reform which is designed to upgrade and revamp state institutions.
Needless to say, many significant accomplishments have been made thanks to an innovative concept of authority, far-reaching political reforms, major development projects and groundbreaking, historical reconciliations. Through these achievements, we have managed to firmly establish a set of sophisticated political and institutional practices which are actually ahead of what is allowed by the current constitutional framework.
I am fully aware of the immense challenges ahead, of the legitimate aspirations expressed, and of the need to preserve accomplishments and redress inadequacies. I am just as deeply committed to giving strong momentum to the substantial reforms under way, of which a democratic constitution is both the basis and the essence.
The sacred character of our immutable values, which are unanimously supported by the nation - namely Islam as the religion of a state which guarantees freedom of worship; Imarat al-Muminin (Commandership of the faithful); the monarchy; national unity and territorial integrity; and commitment to democratic principles - provides solid guarantees for a historic consensual agreement and a new charter between the Throne and the People.
Building on the above, unshakable frame of reference, I have decided to introduce a comprehensive package of constitutional amendments based on the seven key elements below:
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.
My loyal subjects,
Consistent with a standard practice of resorting to a participatory approach in all the major reforms we have introduced so far, I have decided to set up an ad hoc committee for the revision of the Constitution. In selecting committee members, special attention will be paid to competence, impartiality and integrity.
The committee will be chaired by Mr. Abdeltif Mennouni who is known for his wisdom and who has vast knowledge and great experience in constitutional and legal matters.
I call on committee members to listen to political parties, trade unions, youth organizations and qualified civil society groups, intellectuals and scholars, to work closely with them and to seek their views.
The committee is expected to report back to me within next June.
These general guidelines are meant to lay dawn a frame of reference for the committee’s action. Still, the committee is encouraged to show resourcefulness and creativity in order to come up with an advanced constitutional system which is suitable for Morocco, now and into the future.
Until the new draft constitution is submitted to the people via referendum for adoption and implementation, and pending the establishment of the institutions to be called for in the new constitution, the existing institutions will continue to discharge their mission, in accordance with the provisions of the current Constitution.
I call on everyone to be mobilized in order to ensure the success of this crucial constitutional undertaking, to show determination, commitment and a keen sense of purpose, and to put the nation’s best interests above all other considerations.
I should like to say how proud I am of the sincere patriotism shown by my loyal people across the Kingdom, by committed political parties and trade unions and by our ambitious youth. I hope the broad national debate will cover issues that are of crucial importance for the nation and the citizens.
The launching, today, of this constitutional reform is a milestone in the consolidation of our distinctive model which is based on democracy and the pursuit of development.
To support this major step, we shall continue to press ahead with thorough reforms in the political, economic, social and cultural domains, and in development-related sectors. We shall see to it all institutions and agencies fulfil their mission in an optimal manner, observe good governance standards, promote social justice as best they can and foster conditions that are conducive to dignified life.
“I only desire (your) betterment to the best of my power; and my success (in my task) can only come from Allah. In Him I trust, and unto Him I look.”
True is the Word of God.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.
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Roadmap for a thorough constitutional reform
>Enshrining, in the Constitution, the Amazigh as a component of the rich, varied Moroccan identity;
>Strengthening the rule of law and enhancing guarantees for the protection and promotion of rights and liberties:
- Enshrining the Justice and Reconciliation Committee’s recommendations in the Constitution
- Promoting the participation of women in political life by guaranteeing equal access by women and men to electoral mandate and elected office;
>Consolidating the separation of powers; defining clear, modern and efficient working methods for institutions
>Legal system raised to the status of an independent power which guarantees equality of all before the law
>Enhanced status and powers for Parliament:
- Pre-eminence of the House of Representatives, elected by direct universal suffrage
- Upper House has territorial character, particularly regional
- Expanding the scope of legislative competence
- Invigorating parliamentary control mechanisms
>Democratic, responsible government
- Result of people’s will, expressed through the ballot box; enjoys the confidence of the majority in the House of Representatives
- Operates through a Governing Council whose powers are defined and specified in the Constitution
>Prime Minister heads effective executive branch:
- Appointed from the political party which wins the most seats in parliamentary election;
- Has more extensive prerogatives, exercises greater control over civil service and is fully responsible for the management and implementation of the government’s agenda
>Confirmation of advanced regionalization based on democratic principles and designed to achieve integrated development:
- Regional councils with greater powers and elected by direct universal suffrage
- Regional executive authority granted to presidents of regional councils instead of governors and walis
- Sustainable regions operating in a system based on good governance; shored up by interregional solidarity mechanisms
- Strengthening devolution mechanisms
- New distribution of resources and powers between the central authority and the regions
>Greater powers for the constitutional judicial authority to ensure the primacy of the Constitution
>Promoting democracy levers of stakeholders
- Strengthening the role of political parties and trade unions in providing guidance to citizens and in running public affairs
- Recognizing, in the Constitution, the importance of parliamentary opposition and the role of civil society
>Commitment to the principles of good governance and accountability
- Underlining the need for control and accountability in connection with the exercise of power and the holding of public office
- Strengthening mechanisms for moral integrity in public life
- Constitutionalization of the institutions in charge of good governance, human rights and the protection of liberties
>A participatory, inclusive and democratic process
- Ad hoc committee with constitutional expertise
- Ability to listen to all stakeholders from all national sensitivities
- Last word to the people, expressed through a free, fair referendum
>Ultimate goal: consolidating institutional good governance and dignified citizenship:
- Credible, democratic and efficient institutions
- Fostering an environment conducive to active, committed citizenship
- A governance system which promotes development and dignified life for all citizens.
>An important, promising objective set by His Majesty for Morocco, both for the present and the future. Thanks to the thorough constitutional reform under way, Morocco will embark upon a new, significant phase in the process of bolstering its democratic, development-oriented model.