Skip to main content

Moroccan king pledges reforms as neighbors battle uprisings

By the CNN Wire Staff
King Mohamed VI (pictured in 2009) said reforms would include a prime minister from the party that wins the most seats.
King Mohamed VI (pictured in 2009) said reforms would include a prime minister from the party that wins the most seats.
  • NEW: U.S. "welcomes" reforms, calls it a "moment of profound change"
  • King Mohamed VI says reforms would include an elected prime minister
  • Reforms will also promote human rights and gender equality, he says
  • Announcement comes after protests last month
  • Morocco

(CNN) -- The Moroccan king has pledged sweeping constitutional reforms as neighboring nations face violent uprisings demanding more democracy.

In a rare television appearance on Wednesday, King Mohamed VI said the reforms would include a prime minister elected from the party that wins the most seats in parliament.

The prime minister will "be the head of an effective executive branch, who is fully responsible for government, civil service and the implementation of the government's agenda," the king said.

Reforms will also promote human rights and gender equality, and improve the economic, social and cultural aspects, according to the king.

He highlighted seven key elements of his constitutional amendments. They include expanded collective and individual freedoms, an elevated judiciary, a stronger emphasis on democracy and a parliament drawn from free and fair elections.

The U.S. government "welcomes" the "constitutional, judicial and political reforms" announced by the king, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

"This is a moment of profound change in the region and under the leadership of King Mohamed VI, Morocco has made significant achievements in the economic, social and political realms," said Toner, adding that the U.S. is "ready to work with the government and the people of Morocco to realize their democratic aspirations."

The king's announcement came after thousands of Moroccans took to the streets last month to demand reform.

At least five charred bodies were found in a bank that burned down during the protests in al Hoceima in northern Morocco, state-run news agency reported, citing the interior minister.

Protests calling for new leadership have swept across the region, leading to the toppling of decades-long leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

King Mohamed VI has ruled the north African nation for 12 years.

Journalist Martin Jay contributed to this report from Casablanca

Part of complete coverage on
'Sons of Mubarak' in plea for respect
Pro-Mubarak supporters believe Egypt's former president is innocent of charges of corruption and killing protesters.
Timeline of the conflict in Libya
Fighting in Libya started with anti-government demonstrations in February and escalated into a nationwide civil war.
Who are these rebels?
After months of seeming stalemate, Libyan rebels declared they were moving in on Tripoli. But who are they?
Why NATO's Libya mission has shifted
Six months and more than 17,000 air sorties after it began, NATO's Operation Unified Protector in the skies over Libya grinds on.
Interactive map: Arab unrest
Click on countries in CNN's interactive map to see the roots of their unrest and where things stand today.
Send your videos, stories
Are you in the Middle East or North Africa? Send iReport your images. Don't do anything that could put you at risk.
Libya through Gadhafi's keyhole
Behind the official smiles for the cameras some people in Libya's capital are waiting for the rebels, reports CNN's Ivan Watson.
How Arab youth found its voice
Tunisia's Mohamed Bouazizi not only ignited a series of revolts but heralded the first appearance of Arab youth on the stage of modern history.