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Moroccan King Calls for Prompt Parliamentary Elections

Morocco's King Mohamed (file photo)
Morocco's King Mohamed (file photo)

Morocco's King Mohammed is calling for prompt parliamentary elections so that the country can create a new government, after months of pro-democracy demonstrations.

The king delivered his message Saturday in his first address to the North African nation since his people voted overwhelmingly to curb his powers with constitutional reforms on July 1 in a national referendum .

Morocco's interior ministry has been negotiating with the country's political parties about when to hold the vote, but so far, they have not been able to decide on a date.

King Mohammed proposed the changes to the constitution in June in response to the country's so-called February 20 movement that has been holding regular protests to demand a parliamentary monarchy in the kingdom.

The changes limit the king's power while strengthening parliament and the prime minister's office.

Critics say the new constitution still keeps King Mohammed firmly in power by allowing him to choose the prime minister from the winning party and continue to oversee the country's religious matters, security apparatus and judiciary.  It also allows him to dissolve parliament, although not unilaterally.

In February, pro-democracy demonstrations swept across Morocco like much of North Africa and the Middle East.  However, the effect of what is being called the "Arab Spring" movement has been somewhat muted in Morocco as compared to protests that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

The 47-year-old King Mohammed took over the Arab world's longest-serving dynasty in 1999.  During much of his rule, he has held virtually all power in the country and still sits as its top religious authority.

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