25th May 2019

EU takes king's side in Moroccan protests

  • Orante door handles at the royal palace in Fez, Morocco (Photo: pixies4ever)

The EU has endorsed reform proposals by the King of Morocco despite complaints that they will not lead to real change.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and nieghbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele in a joint statement on Sunday (19 June) called the King's plan "a significant step [which] signals a clear commitment to democracy and respect for human rights."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

They added that "once fully implemented, it would be a major step forward in the process of reforms" and would be "in line with the ambitions [for] advanced status in the relations between Morocco and the EU."

King Mohammed VI in a TV speech on Friday unveiled a draft constitution to be put to a referendum on 1 July.

The charter says that in future the king would have to nominate a prime minister from the ranks of a freely elected political party. The PM would be in charge of setting domestic policy and would have the power to dissolve parliament. The charter promises an independent judiciary and an end to human rights abuses by security forces. It also alters the king's official title from that of a "sacred" ruler to an "inviolable" one.

Mohammed VI would stay in charge of foreign policy and of the military and would remain the country's religious head, however. He would also be able to pass royal decrees in parallel to the government.

The country of 36 million people has so far avoided the kind of mass protests seen in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen in the run-up to Arab Spring revolutions.

But the youth-oriented February 20 movement on Sunday held rallies in Casablanca, Marrakesh, Rabat and Tangiers to denounce the king's plan. Casablanca saw around 10,000 people out on the streets, while rallies in other towns amounted to a few hundred or a few dozen people only. Rival pro-Mohammed VI groups also held small marches.

The Casablanca protesters carried banners saying "No to a constitution made for slaves!" and "No to a constitution of dictatorship!"

February 20 spokesmen claim the changes are purely cosmetic and are designed to avoid trouble rather than to bring change. "The king continues to hold exorbitant powers," economist Fouad Abdelmoumni, a February 20 "sympathiser" told the AFP news agency.

Critics added that almost half of Moroccans are illiterate and that all three news channels are controlled by the state, undermining people's chances to make an informed vote in the referendum in just two weeks' time.

Arabic news agency Al-Arabiya reported that in Rabat government-hired "thugs" beat up protesters, wounding 40 and scattering the march. It said there was similar harassment in Casablanca and Tangiers.


EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

EU urges US not to start war with Iran

Europe's top diplomats have said US actions risked triggering a conflict with Iran, as America makes plans to pour troops into Middle East in echoes of Iraq war.

EU-Sahel talks next week amid 'unprecedented attacks'

Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are meeting EU foreign, defence, and development ministers next week in Brussels. The visit comes amid "unprecedented levels" of armed attacks, says the UN.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal


EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  2. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  3. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  4. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  5. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  6. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  7. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  8. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us