Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane as Morocco Premier
-DR. ABDUL RUFF
I - Poll
Moroccans have elected new lower house of parliament on 25 November, in the first national vote since the approval of constitutional reforms in July billed as laying the foundations for a fully-fledged constitutional monarchy. Moderate Islamists, as expected, did well the vote after a similar success in Tunisia's first democratic election a month ago and the Justice and Development Party (PJD) emerged as the biggest party in Friday's parliamentary elections.
The Justice and Development Party (PJD) took 107 seats out of the 395 in Parliament, almost twice as many as the second-place nationalist Istiqlal party, with 60 seats. The election was held more than a year early, after pro-democracy demonstrations swept the country earlier this year as part of the regionwide Arab Spring.
The leader of a moderate Islamist party Abdelilah Benkirane has been appointed by King Mohammed VI as Morocco's new prime minister. Abdelilah will now hold talks on forming a coalition government. His Justice and Development Party has not been in government before.
The PJD's victory follows that of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda Party in an election there last month. Following elections, King Mohammed VI is for the first time obliged to choose the prime minister from the largest party, rather than naming whoever he pleases. King Mohammed received Benkirane, who is the PJD's secretary general, in the mountain town of Midelt and named him head of government with the task of forming a new government.
Under a new constitution approved by referendum in July, the king has to choose a prime minister from the party that won the most seats. The constitution also gives the prime minister more powers to govern, but the king still has the final say on issues of defence, security and religion. The reforms were supported by all the main political parties, which called on their supporters to back the proposals in the referendum.
The 20 February movement, which spearheaded Morocco's pro-democracy protests earlier this year, has called for a boycott of the elections, dismissing them as a "piece of theatre". It says the constitutional changes approved in July are superficial, and perpetuate a "facade of democracy" that - it says - has disguised continuing royal rule for decades.
King Mohammed VI presented the constitutional changes as a far-reaching concession to Arab Spring-style pro-democracy protests, but activists believe they will do little to change the actual power structure and have called for a boycott of the elections. As a result of the constitutional changes approved by 98% of those voting in a 1 July referendum, the position of the prime minister, who must now be appointed from the largest party in parliament, has also been enhanced, gaining the authority to appoint government officials and dissolve parliament. However, the parliament will have a greater share of power and - in theory - will play the leading role in a legislative process previously dominated by the king.
Benkirane, who was elected head of his party in 2008, leads its more pro-monarchy faction. He has repeatedly stated his support for a strong king, even though some of his colleagues would prefer a less powerful ruler. "The head of the state is king and no-one can govern without him," he told supporters. The PJD has said it will promote Islamic finance. However, it has avoided focusing on issues such as alcohol and headscarves for women.
Many of the protesters who took to the streets in February feel the reforms still fall far short of their demands for a democratic, constitutional monarchy, and have called for a boycott. Ahead of the poll, the sleepy calm of the capital, Rabat, was occasionally punctuated by the marches of unemployed graduates. But the country's powerful monarchy and the system that supports it appear to have averted any direct, mortal challenge for now.
A low turnout in the parliamentary poll would detract from the legitimacy of King Mohammed VI's reforms and could hint at future problems.
II - Morocco
The Kingdom of Morocco is the most westerly of the North African countries known as the Maghreb. To the south, the status of Western Sahara remains unresolved. Morocco annexed the territory in 1975 and a guerrilla war with Algerian-backed pro-independence forces ended in 1991. UN efforts have failed to break the political deadlock. To the north, a dispute with Spain in 2002 over the tiny island of Perejil revived the issue of the sovereignty of Melilla and Ceuta. The small enclaves on the Mediterranean coast are surrounded by Morocco and have been administered by Madrid for centuries.
Strategically situated with both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, but with a rugged mountainous interior, it stayed independent for centuries while developing a rich culture blended from Arab, Berber, European and African influences. However, Morocco was a French protectorate from 1912 to 1956, when Sultan Mohammed became king. He was succeeded in 1961 by his son, Hassan II, who ruled for 38 years. He played a prominent role in the search for peace in the Middle East, given the large number of Israelis of Moroccan origin, but was criticized for suppressing domestic opposition. A truth commission set up to investigate human rights violations during Hassan's reign confirmed nearly 10,000 cases, ranging from death in detention to forced exile. After his death in 1999 Hassan was succeeded by his son, who became King Mohammed VI and was seen as a modernizer. There has been some economic and social liberalization, but the monarch has retained sweeping powers.
King Mohammed is aided by a powerful propaganda machine - his image adorns streets and shops across the country. Central to the monarchical regime's strength is its longevity - the Alaoui dynasty gained control of most of Morocco in 1664 - and its claim of descent from the Prophet Muhammad. The king has tremendous religious and political capital - it's not just the king but the whole political establishment, the monarchy and the "makhzen" provide for the patronage network that embodies Morocco's ruling elite.
Moroccan citizens, many of them poor and illiterate and living in rural areas, are made to believe that the monarch has a special gift or blessing and they feel that they have some psychological relationship with the king. Symbolic rituals also boost his status. In an annual ceremony of allegiance, the "bay'a", Moroccan officials bow before the king as he parades on a horse.
Despite these traditional trappings, the monarchy under the 48-year-old king has taken on a more modern, reformist image. His father, Hassan II, ran a notoriously brutal regime between 1961 and 1999. Opponents were tortured and protests repressed. 1965, the interior minister at the time, Gen Mohammed Oufkir, supervised a crackdown on demonstrations in Casablanca from a helicopter while - according to one story - personally spraying rioters with a machine gun. But a process of gradual reform began in the final years of Hassan's rule, and continued with his son. It included a family law that advanced women's rights and a truth commission that explored abuses under King Hassan - though none of those responsible were prosecuted.
Along with Ennahda in Tunisia and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, it places itself within a contemporary movement to promote and respect Islam and reconcile Islam and democracy. Coalitions of more secular, royalist parties have tried to smother it and the Islamists have found it hard to directly challenge the king because of his religious status as "commander of the faithful". It too is seen by many as being in the pocket of the palace. The PJD here in Morocco is presenting the 'third way' between revolution and the uncertainty of the current system.
The toppling of long-standing leaders in Tunisia and Egypt at the beginning of the year is widely seen as having caught the Moroccan regime off-guard, at a time when the reform process had stagnated. As Morocco's own protest movement took shape, a long-held taboo was breached. It's the first time in Morocco that the king was openly criticized and they didn't shoot people. Instead, the monarchy's response was to promise changes including rights guarantees and more powers for the parliament. These were enshrined in a new constitution that was approved by referendum in July.
III - Observations
Maybe, the Arab World is in the process of changing but Arabs still don't know the results and what will happen in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria or Yemen especially the destruction of Libya by the NATO-UNSC terror organizations. The moderately Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which has been buoyed by the recent reforms, and by the gains Islamists have made elsewhere in the region, could win the election and so supply the next prime minister.
Leaders of Morocco claim they are presenting the way of reform without losing the stability, the unity of the country- but at the same time furthering the democratic agenda of Morocco.
Morocco's ruling elite thinks it has skillfully sidestepped the revolutionary fervor sweeping the Arab world by offering a milder, more peaceful vision of change. Critics of the reforms point in particular to the fact that the king will still have wide-ranging executive powers, in particular control over foreign, defence and security policy. Activists also say the reforms will not end the behind-the-scenes dominance of the "makhzen" - a power apparatus of veteran politicians, powerful businesspeople, the security forces and royal officials controlled by the king through a system of patronage.
Morocco is bidding for membership of the European Union, its main trade partner, but there appears to be little enthusiasm for this within the bloc.
Morocco has been given the status of non-Nato ally by Washington, which has praised its support for the US-led war on terror. After deadly suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003, Morocco launched a crackdown on suspected Islamic militants.
The message of a democratic agenda and gradual change is one that has gone down well with Morocco's allies in the anti-Islamic US and Europe who promote pro-west leaders in Muslim world and destabilize the Muslim nations if the leaders do not buy CIA terror gimmicks…
Political and poll bribery is common. Sheep were being handed out to voters, and over the last few months, the protest movement has been subject to a smear campaign, arrests, and intimidation at the hands of shadowy groups of pro-monarchy thugs known as "baltaja". But Moroccans say they will show the Western world that Morocco can bring about a gentle revolution and the nation can travel towards a real democracy.
In Morocco elections are never decisive as the king retains ultimate control and though parliament has more power, parties are weak. The electoral system is prepared on purpose not to let anyone succeed, so it's impossible to get more than 20% of the seats in parliament and this is to allow the monarchy to dominate. The manipulation of the party system is just one of the old-fashioned tactics still being deployed to bolster the status quo. According to analysts, the reforms passed this year are largely cosmetic, and there is no guarantee they will be put into practice on the ground. However, so long as it plays the NATO fiddle well, it has got nothing to worry.
Claims, fake or real, of descent from the Prophet Muhammad (Peace) by a few pampered Muslim leaders might be fashionable but are ridiculous if they decline to promote true Islam in the society. Moroccan king clams the same of being a descent from the Prophet Muhammad but he shamelessly sides with NATO terrorism and western anti-Islamism. A Muslim nation that promotes anti-Islamism and helps, directly or otherwise, the anti-Islamic GST rogues and refuses to promote Islamic way of life and institutionalize Islamic law on daily basis ceases to be a Muslim nation. Muslim leaders in such societies are guilty of anti-Islamic crimes.
Elected premier Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane, though worships the king, has a responsibly constructive role to play in this regard so that Islam takes firm roots in the society. Americans, Britishers and other western terrocrats cannot help him or Morocco in this regard. Benkirane's pro-people policies and their proper implementation would greatly benefit not just Muslims but entire humanity in some measure.
د. عبد راف
Dr. Abdul Ruff, Specialist on State Terrorism; Educationalist;Chancellor-Founder of Centor for International Affairs(CIA); Independent Analyst;Chronicler of Foreign occupations & Freedom movements(Palestine,Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc); Anti-Muslimism and anti-Islamism are more dangerous than "terrorism" Anti-Islamic forces & terrorists are using criminal elements for terrorizing the world and they in disguise are harming genuine interests of ordinary Muslims. Global media today, even in Muslim nations, are controlled by CIA & other anti-Islamic agencies. Former university Teacher;/website:abdulruff.wordpress.com/ 91-9961868309/91-9961868309