King Hassan of Morocco has begun to make good an earlier pledge to lead his kingdom back to "parliamentary democracy".
King Hassan of Morocco has begun to make good an earlier pledge to lead his kingdom back to "parliamentary democracy". In June, he allowed democratic elections to be held for the first, and, on Friday (14 October), he welcomed the resulting new government to the opening of its first parliamentary session.
SYNOPSIS: For the past few years, King Hassan has ruled the country by decree, but at a British-style State opening of parliament at Rabat, he opened the way for what he calls a "democratic experiment". The new 260-seat Parliament was elected in June by both direct suffrage and indirect vote, with a large majority going to the monarchist Independents.
However, for the first time, several other parties are also represented in the Moroccan Parliament. They include the major opposition group, the Rightist Istiqlal Party, and two minor parties. King Hassan told the new government he was tired of "a conspiracy of silence" and asked new Cabinet members to speak out on Morocco's problems.
In 1970, Morocco had been set for general elections but the main parties boycotted them, claiming they were "rigged". Later, a so-called "rubber stamp" parliament was dissolved, and King Hassan has survived several attempted military coups.
Since then, the King has ruled by decree, but his position became more secure with the success of his campaign to take over part of the Western Sahara from Spain. He has yet to squash all international opposition to his Sahara takeover, but some observers say he could do so by boosting democracy at home.