Morocco New Constitution: Back To Square One

Arezki daoud
Washington  / Morocco Board News---   The Moroccan people are holding their breath on what's coming on the political front. Insiders involved in the political reform with front seat view of a proposed draft of the new constitution promised by the King say this one is a "game changer." Many even go as far as calling it "revolutionary." But how revolutionary is this draft document? For those seeking smooth transition to democracy, they are going to be hugely disappointed.

In many critical areas, it seems as if the reform commission used a thesaurus to change words to make it sound like a real change is happening. But the reality is otherwise. The King will continue to rule, may be not so directly now yet certainly via proxy.


For example the King will now become the "Supreme Representative of the State," instead of the "Supreme Representative of the Nation."  Well what does that mean in real terms?  As far I can interpret, he will continue to call the shots no matter what, in fact solidifying the Monarchy's control of all State affairs.

Then it is said that the Amazigh language will be national language. Then again neighboring Algeria has had the Amazigh language recognized in its constitution for several years. Yet, a visit to Amazigh land in the Kabylie region of Algeria and one can see blatant discrimination against the Amazigh people in the hands of those who represent the State. So let's not be fooled, recognizing Amazigh language means nothing if not followed with actions on the ground and that means economic resources to those people.

Now further into language semantics: the draft constitution proposes to erase the term Prime Minister and replace it by President of the Government (President du Gouvernment). Let's be real here, this is just a exercise in synonyms shifting and if the King is the "Supreme Representative of the State," changing the name would mean nothing, except that one person will be called Mr. President.   Furthermore, the famous Article 19 is maintained with some changes called by the authors as "revolutionary" as well, but which I consider window dressing. Article 19 still insists that the King is the Commander of the Faithfull because of the "historical legitimacy" to the benefit of the Monarchy, whatever that means. But the draft constitution says the King can remain source of new laws (called Dahir) but only in religious matters. That may be true, yet the fact that no movement by the new President can be made without Royal consent is indicative that the King will continue to call the shot and will make decision by proxy.

OK I don't mean to be all negative. I do recognize that the fact that Mr. President will come from the political party with the highest number of votes in the legislative elections is somewhat a better idea that what we have been used to.  In this case, the President may be more tempted to report to the voters and that's a good thing. But something suggests that we are not getting the full story. What's the link between the President and the "Supreme Representative of the State."  Is the latter like the British monarch? Or does he (always a man) have the ability to impose policies and government decision. The truth is the real power still remains that of the King.

Still on the positive front, the cabinet and the Walis (Provincial Governors) will be appointed by the President. How this will happen and what is the role of the Monarchy remains to be seen as well. One more problem in this picture is about the other proposed idea of decentralizing government put forth by the King himself, an idea that calls for the regions to decide on who would govern them at the local level. If the President is now trusted to appoint the Walis, with Royal consent, then should we expect the King's regionalization initiative to be scrapped?

Well, here's the truth: nothing the President will want to do would happen without the explicit agreement of the King. That's been in the constitution forever, and it is in the proposed "revision." And so we are back to square one.

As for the parliament, its legislative coverage will theoretically expand from 9 areas to 40. The Chamber of Representatives will be able to form Commissions of Inquiries if 20% of its members agree. Motions to Censure and the removal of the government can be approved with only 33% of the body. Personally, I think this is excessive, a policy clearly meant to weaken the President and his cabinet. Here again, the Executive branch is stuck between the Monarchy, without which nothing can be done, and the Parliament, which acts as a deadly threat that can clearly be used by the King to reset the agenda and remove the threat, if any.

Meanwhile, it appears the Monarchy is slated to gain some more power, ironically in the name of "less power." For instance the Justice Minister will no longer preside on behalf of the King over the nation's highest judiciary body, the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature (CSM). Instead, the function will swing back to the Monarchy. But the good news there is that female judges for the first time will be allowed to join the CSM, and so we give the Commission some credit on that front.

How will these changes be greeted in Morocco? Very simple: millions will be disappointed and their fight for democracy will go on. Millions of others, typical conservative pro-Monarchists will support it, calling it "revolutionary." Outside of Morocco, the typical reactions from the likes of Paris and Washington would be the usual congratulatory statements of a democracy on the move, and some in these governments will privately express their displeasure for the lack of progress, but only privately.

In the final analysis, unless the King comes forward with new changes in draft 1, we are anticipating sustained tension on the Moroccan political scene going forward, not the likes we see in Siyria or Yemen, but much more subtle movements. The momentum built by the youth pro-democracy movement will not slow and might be reignited by these latest announcements. We conclude that at this stage the response of the commission appointed by the Monarchy as lackluster as a lot more remains to be changed.


Author: Arezki daoud is the publisher of the North African Journal

Comments (14)  

man en blanc
0 #1 the "Supreme Representative of the State."?man en blanc 2011-06-10 04:15
I don't know. I don't think that the words "democracy" and "supreme representative" belong in the same sentence.
But, I have yet to see the full revamped version. So I shall withhold judgement.
0 #2 A very confused authorPaul 2011-06-10 04:48
Furthermore, the famous Article 19 is maintained with some changes called by the authors as "revolutionary" as well, but which I consider window dressing. Article 19 still insists that the King is the Commander of the Faithfull because of the "historical legitimacy" to the benefit of the Monarchy, whatever that means.

Whatever that means?

The Author, later in the article appears to demonstrate his understanding of the british monarchy. The British monarchy, of course, also built on a historical legitimacy. But fails to demonstrate his understanding of the the Moroccan Monarchy.

Is this author fit to write?

Why does the author write...."We conclude that at this stage...."

We? We? oh i see, your a biased "Journalist"

Well, that explains it.

4/10 Much more work to do to prove worth.
0 #3 Small Steps, Sur Steps.Jambo 2011-06-10 06:19
For evolution to happen progress must occur and take hold.
Small steps are at times needed to assure continued progress.

For those who have a larger appetite they can read the American History or the Egyptian present, when blood spills one must ask was it worth it, for evolution happens regardless but better with handshakes rather than fist punches.

With small steps this time and more small steps tomorrow we can see the future with dusk and sunrise many times over. I like for all segments of the Moroccan society to get a ride on this trip and plan for many future trips so we can all make it over to side of full democracy through a path painted with ink instead of blood.
Karim, Los Angeles
0 #4 Where is the meat ?Karim, Los Angeles 2011-06-10 14:35
Are we to assume that Mr. Daoud Actually saw the draft ? Then, where are the quotes ? You can't write an article where you provide preconceptions, pre-interpretat ions, no analysis and full prognosis of what's to come.
Frankly, I feel insulted by such an article!
Fouad Ramsis
0 #5 all beginnings are difficult ..Fouad Ramsis 2011-06-10 20:45
As a Moroccan living in Europe I,m pleased with all the efforts undertaken by the king since he came into power to modernise and proffesionalize the kingdom.
We must not forget where we were before and be realistic that going from more or less a totalitarian regime towards relatively more freedoms. I agree that we still have a long long way to go before we reach the "perfect" state of democracy, equality and total freedom (something that we do not even enjoy here in Europe in an absolute sense). It is not only up to the king alone to change but also the people have to alter their mentality and the way they interact with each other, change comes from the bottum up and within the minds of everybody. It is then when we will have reached our goal.
0 #6 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Morocco New Constitution: Back To Square OneUssef 2011-06-10 23:24
Oh just bugger off! You're living in a completely fictional world full of unicorns and leaders who willingly relinquish power. Wake up!

What is going to happen is a new distribution of power, with the king getting a chunk of his in the arena, and we'll see who will go in and grab it. If no one does, and probably the impotent parties are not going to, he will get it back one way or another. The king is in no way going to be a figurehead, we don't need a ceremonial king in my opinion anyway. If you hope for that, just man up and declare support for a republic.

The momentum built by the youth pro-democracy movement as you say will go pshiiit as they get radicalised and marginalized because the movement has no direction or leadership capable of mutating it into a real political force. Those leaders seem to have no interest in playing the political game, going into negotiations with an agenda and get their hands dirty and compromise and wrestle and get things done. Not even bothered to release a counter constitution draft since they rejected the whole process leading to this one. It pains me but the 20 febs are proving to be empty drums, they make a lot of noise but have no substance. No one group seems to be doing what has to be done to wrestle more democratic measures into being, no one group emerges as a viable force.

If nothing changes soon, I will vote for this new constitution no matter what's in it, because "we" will not have earned better. Posturing and demonstration are useless as pressure tool if their is only fog to pressure for.
Salim Bouzid
0 #7 A decent constitution is a must...Salim Bouzid 2011-06-11 09:00
The content of the current draft leaked to the public domain through the numerous declarations of members of the political parties who participated in the meeting with Mr. Mennouni and Motassim. The author of the article here, may have accessed to such information directly or indirectly.
To the point, the new constitution is merely a pretty face of the old constitution, No real breakthrough changes.

The only interpretation is that M6 still wants to keep total control, which is not surprising, No singe Arab leader in the history have voluntarily given away power. Real changes occurring in Arab countries these days started with a revolution.

Till very recently we wanted to believe that Morocco was an exception, and that we were capable, as a civilized nation, to move the country to a real democracy without recurring to force. With this current constitution draft, we are back to the starting point, or maybe we are in a catch22 situation.

In principal, we are in the same situation as Libya, in a sense that only M6 can solve this conflict by engaging the Moroccan society in the constitutional reform, and by trusting the Moroccan society. I am pretty sure, Moroccans will appreciate that. If the Monarch does not take a real initiative, Morocco will head toward more protests, and maybe chaos, which we don't want to see in Morocco.
In any case, If we get a decent constitution, we still need many years to clean our political system, reduce corruption and restore a functional government.

For the ones who want to vote "Yes" on a constitution that they don't believe in, it is better to abstain from voting, then voting on a constitution that your children and grand children will blame you for. This is not just about us, this is for our future generations.
0 #8 ?Khalidb 2011-06-11 13:29
Oh god, now we are going to have entire studies about a text that has not been made public yet !

I really don't understand what all the fuss is about. If Moroccans think that the new constitution is not suitable for them, they will vote it out. As simple as that.

Nor Mr. Daoud or any other person can decide what Moroccans need or don't need. Isn't a referendum the best democratic tool to let a nation decide of its future?
0 #9 Sloppy journalism and shorted sighted analysisborsa 2011-06-12 02:45
Arezki Daoud portrays himself as a spokesman for the Moroccan populace, he makes weak arguments and draws presumptuous conclusions using consistent negative and pessimistic language totally disregarding the Kings previous reforms. No surprises there, Arezki Daoud is an Algerian and if you have frequented his website as often as I have done you will see his agenda is very clear, he wants Morocco to follow Algerian model of a failed republican state. Thanks but no thanks.
0 #10 This is a farceToufik 2011-06-12 08:44
I did not read the article, and I know nothing about the new constitution. What I know for sure is that a democratic and true constitution MUST start with the ELECTION of the committee responsible for writting it, and NOT by APPOINTTING the committee. This is like an ancient king who received a group of people complaining about the spread of corruption in his kingdom. He listened to them then said: " Ok, now how much you will you pay me to stop all this corruption"
0 #11 Chaos & Failure when blood energizes emotions instead of the mindJambo 2011-06-12 21:28
To end up in democracy, an idea where people themselves govern themselves, a trip through thought is necessary, because you don’t want to take the wrong turn somewhere only to find out later that you were too busy being angry to look at the map or listen to your wife. The Moroccan women must be listened to before the Moroccan men screw anything up again.

The reason small steps are better than giant ones is if you stray away from democracy into lets say the beginning of civil unrest, you want to have a chance at getting back.. Its easy to begin a fight but impossible to end it especially after the blood spills.

Human nature makes impossible for a group of people to divert enough blood stream to power up their emotions of anger and hate, and keep enough blood fuel powering the mind. It is the mind that we need to drive though years of standing still in time while other societies advanced. We need all Moroccan minds focused on the first few steps in this trip that we officially began on 09 March 2011. We already have enough evidence from recent and older history, that getting out of chaos is no laughing matter.

Lets vote on this constitutional draft and if need be we can ask for another draft. Change is happening whether you want to approve of it or not. What is more urgent than magical democracy is a real economic miracle. There are more people in morocco in need of a job than local representative, more in need of law and order and political stability. It is the many people who need economic improvement safety and security, who will support more daring political changes from what it is to what it should be.

Death happens from disease and old age not just war. Making small or modest improvement with this constitutional change will make our society more united more strong more of a candidate for more democracy. From the prophet’s sayings, your affairs are a matter of consultation amongst yourselves, is the seed of democracy in the Moroccan society. It’s chaos that we want to avoid, so small steps are better than the risk of chaos for this abdrabbo
Arezki Daoud
0 #12 From the authorArezki Daoud 2011-06-14 01:51
Thanks all for the feedback and points well taken.

Granted I am not Moroccan, I have always and will continue to feel attachment to my Moroccan,Tunisi an and Libyan brothers and sisters. I am a true believer that we have more to gain by being close to each other than pitted against one another. These fake colonial bounderies are simply meant to perpetuate the non-sense about our respective nationalities, while a very few manage to ransack these nations.

To my friend 'Borsa,' seeking to Algerianize Morocco is the craziest idea one would accuse me of. I have no idea where you got this, so I have to bring you back on earth. Over and over again I made it clear and continue to insist that the Algerian regime has been on the wrong path. Algerians too are going through their own reformation, and the regime is working hard to prevent real democracy to take hold. Again, I have no sympathy for Algiers as a government. That does not mean I have to fully endorse what Rabat is doing. Regarding what Menouni is proposing, the evidence is clear. You don't have to beleive me, you can certainly discredite my opinion, and I am OK with that. But you cannot hide the fact. Here is a fellow Moroccan who articulated what is widely known: . Can you at least read the articles that are being proposed and have the courage to say this is reform?

Regarding the note from many that the piece is 'journalism,' I say no this is not journalism. It is an opinion piece and that comes with its own bias. Mine are very clear: I do not believe in godly power: the moment one person calls himself a representative of god, just like the Pope, the rest of us are servants with all the consequences that such situation carries. Some may not like it, I am Berber and I think we are far from getting our rights, regardless of where we are in Maghreb. I totally beleive in gender equality..Again , our societies pay a lip service to our women whether you are in Algeria or Morocco, Tunisia did better. Of course anyone can argue that I am wrong, and I am fine. But to accuse me of being anti Morocco, that is not acceptable.

Finally, I beleive the King by not being part of the Menouni process is a good move meant to intervene in case the situation goes bad. He can now say "I don't agree with this pooint, therefore I am changing this and changing that" based on feedback and public reaction. Ultimatly it is up to the Moroccan people to choose their future, but as the world is watching, it is very difficult not to have an opinion. Best wishes and thank you for your feedback!

Arezki Daoud
Abdelhak Faiky
0 #13 What it is that we wre voting for? Where is the draft?Abdelhak Faiky 2011-06-25 22:38
I got redirected to this site while I was trying to look up and read the proposed draft and the revisions to the constitution... I have yet to see it, thereofre I am unable to comment. And IF WE DON'T KNOW what we are voting for, why vote?
0 #14 a word gamebejamin 2011-07-03 03:44
this new constitution, if any newness applies to it, is just reminiscent to "Animal Farm" in the sense that it has changes only on the semantic level, where Animal Farm replaces Manor Farm. This change only brings about more injustice in that all the strenuous efforts made by the animals in such that they prompt their standards of living just culminates in their own destruction.

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