Morocco’s opposition youth movement is calling on followers to boycott a constitutional referendum on July 1st. On Twitter, @ibnkafka, a Moroccan source, confirmed the data and mamsawtinch.com presents the petition against the referendum proposed by King Mohammed VI.
Claiming that the reforms proposed by the King in the referendum program are largely superficial, the February 20th Movement invokes freedom and real changes.
On February 20th protests began in Morocco as an emerging urban youth movement (now called the February 20th Movement) began pressuring the monarchy for greater political freedoms and mobilizing online. After protests King Mohammed promised “comprehensive constitutional reform,” with an emphasis on human rights and liberties. While awaiting the reforms, protesters organized weekly demonstrations to maintain pressure on the regime.
A constitutional commission appointed by the monarchy interacted with select civil society organizations to prepare a draft of constitutional changes, which was presented to the King on June 9th. His Majesty announced his approval of the changes in a speech on June 17th and encouraged citizens to approve the changes as well. He announced that the referendum for the constitutional changes would be held July 1.
Therefore, what the King had promised did not convince members of the February 20 Movement who gathered in major cities (Casablanca, Rabat, Oujda, Meknes, Tangier and Marrakesh) on June 19th for demonstrations.
The main differences between Morocco and Tunisia or Egypt protests rely on the requests and the participation of the population. In Morocco the population appears to be more interested in maintaining the monarchy as the state’s primary unifying force than in demanding full regime change. People think that they could obtain more results by pressing than overthrowing government.
Moreover, protests in Morocco have not grown significantly in size yet. Unlike the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which grew over time to approximately 300,000 at their peak, the Moroccan demonstrations have so far been relatively peaceful and organized.
Khaled al-Amari Case and violence
Khaled al-Amari, a 30 year old man and member of the main Islamist opposition, Al-Adl wal Ihsan, died in Safi, southern Morocco, on Thursday 2nd June from wounds sustained during a pro-reform demonstration several days earlier, according to the Associated Press.
The young man took part in a protest which was part of a weekly series of demonstrations calling for greater freedoms in the North African monarchy.
Some witnesses said to Association Press that Al-Amari was brutally beaten. "He was beaten in several places and after he went home he began to really feel the effects," a man said.
Though an anonymous government member told the news agency MAP that "after cardiac arrest resulting from pneumonia at the Mohammed V hospital where he was taken in the morning," local authorities denied his death was related to the beating he received in the demonstrations.
Al-Amari is the seventh person to die since anti-government protests began in Morocco three months ago. On June 5th, the swelling crowd proceeded from the Old City down Muhammed VI Avenue, many holding pictures of Khaled al-Amari's beaten face. Protesters chanted: "Down with despotism. We want freedom and dignity," and "peace, peace, freedom is coming," as they made their way to parliament. At many points in the march, protesters clasped each other's hands, sat down in the street, or waved peace signs in the air.
Which are the reforms proposed by the King?
According to King Mohammad VI, the title of "President of Government" will be grant to the Prime Minister and the ability to dissolve parliament - although the King remains the “supreme arbitrator” and retains the power to dissolve parliament after consulting the Council of Minister.
Protesters see this point as a formal change. The proposed changes grant the King the power to appoint the chair of the Council of Ministers as president of government “on the basis of a specific agenda.”
The powers of King Mohammad as “Commander of the Faithful” will remain inviolable, as well as he will also keep his military title as“chief of staff of the Royal Armed Forces.” This means that he could continue to use tactics such as hacking Facebook and Twitter accounts and blocking e-mail communications to hinder the protesters’ activities.
The Moroccan Interior Ministry allegedly is giving grants of 8 million dirham ($972,053) to each of the country’s eight leading political parties to persuade Moroccan politicians to vote “yes” in a constitutional referendum scheduled for July 1, Al Sabah reported June 23.
This video shows children used in a commercial promoting the referendum.
What do opposition movements want?
Democracy, freedom of expression, political representation, a King who does not rule as the supreme authority. That’s what youth movements claim in Morocco. On Twitter, @Mamfakinck published a list of reasons to boycott referendum.
The February 20th Movement is Morocco’s main opposition force. It represents educated youths who are unemployed, disillusioned by the government and seeking greater. The opposition has mainly organized online and has relied on local contingents to garner support in as many as 52 towns and cities across Morocco each Sunday and now they prepare for the July 1st battle.