The king of Morocco is preparing to introduce a series of constitutional reforms likely in a bid to prevent the kind of massive unrest witnessed across the Arab world and North Africa.
King Mohammed VI will announce the amendments in a televised speech on Friday evening.
According to Agence France Presse and Reuters, the reforms will reduce the monarch’s power and give greater responsibilities and authority to the prime minister, parliament and the judiciary.
Under the new scheme, the prime minister will become the president of the government and will be granted the power to name appoint government officials, including in the public administration and state enterprises. This right was formerly reserved for the king.
In addition, prime minister will be allowed to debate general state policy with a government council at weekly meetings in absence of the king.
Under existing rules, only a cabinet led by the king can determine state policy.
The so-called president of the government will also have the right to dissolve parliament – another privileged held solely by the monarch.
The Parliament will be permitted to declare general amnesty – again, taking over the right formerly held by the king.
Meanwhile, the judiciary will be free to operate independently of both the legislative and executive authorities.
Up until now, the king led the council which appointed the country's judges.
In a symbolic gesture, the king’s status as “sacred” will be removed from the constitution, although he will keep the title Commander of the Faithful, which means his role as the country's only religious authority will be retained.
The proposals will be forwarded next month as a referendum.
Last March, as the upheavals in the Middle East had already caught fire, the king had vowed to enact comprehensive constitutional reform in Morocco. While the country did witness some protests demanding democracy, the demonstrations were nothing of the scale seen in Egypt and Tunisia.
However, Morocco has some of the same problems as its neighbors – namely, high joblessness and widespread poverty.