Rabat: Morocco's King
Mohammed VI would make a speech promising a clutch of reforms, the
country's interior ministry announced Sunday, after thousands of
demonstrators protested in 20 towns and cities across the country.
No significant clashes were reported, although turnout in the "Day
of Pride" was lower than expected - possibly due to heavy rain in
the capital Rabat and elsewhere.
A statement from the interior ministry said the monarch would soon
make a speech, outlining intended political reforms.
However, no further details were immediately available.
Following upheavals across North Africa and the Arab world, the
protesters were calling for the resignation of the government,
dissolution of parliament, and constitutional reforms to limit the
powers of King Mohammed.
Reports about the turnout varied.
Witnesses said around 4,000 people protested outside the
parliament in the capital. A significant number of these were from
the moderate Islamic Justice and Charity movement.
A large police presence monitored the demonstration, but kept
largely in the background.
Casablanca saw a demonstration of around 2,000 people whilst in
the port city of Tangier around 1,500 protesters staged a
demonstration, witnesses said.
The state-run MAP news agency put the figures at 2,000 in Rabat
and 1,000 in Casablanca.
Morocco till now has been scarcely affected by the wave of
political protests which have swept the Arab region in recent
The country has a variety of political parties and a
freely-elected parliament, although governmental powers are
restricted in key areas where the monarch has the final word. The
king also appoints the key cabinet ministers.
Morocco's king is not as unpopular as some monarchs in the region,
and the demonstrations were largely focussed on the government,
parliament and perceived corruption.
Most political parties have come out against the demonstrations.