Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moroccan New Draft Constitution: King Says Modern, Democratic

The Moroccan king has said a new draft constitution which consecrates constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy would be put to a popular referendum on 1 July. In an address to the nation, King Mohammed VI unveiled the broad lines of a new draft constitution which he described modern and democratic. The king spoke about the separation of powers and revealed that most of his powers would be delegated to the head of government. After referring to his diminished prerogatives and the strengthened prerogatives of the head of government, the Moroccan monarch highlighted the kingdom's diversified cultural identity and said the new draft constitution had stipulated that Berber would become an official language beside Arabic. He concluded his 25-minute long speech by urging Moroccans to vote in favor of the new draft constitution. The following is the full text of King Mohammed VI's speech:
Thanks be to God and prayers and peace upon our lord the messenger of God, his family and disciples. My dear people, Today, I address you to renew our joint oath with a new constitution which will constitute a decisive historic transition in the process of the building of the rule of law and democratic institutions, in entrenching the principles and mechanisms of good governance and in guaranteeing dignified citizenship and social justice.
It is the ambitious process which I initiated since I succeeded to the throne in a perfect harmony with all the active forces of the nation. Three months after the beginning of the process of the constitutional amendment we are able to crystallize a charter of a new democratic constitution based on an advanced framework of my reference 9 March historic speech, which reached a broad national consensus, and on the important proposals put forward by political parties, trade unions organizations, civil society and youth associations, in addition to the creative efforts made by the consultative committee and the constructive action taken by the political body which we set up for this purpose.
New Draft Constitution
I would like to praise the democratic contribution made by everyone which enabled us, thanks to this partnership approach, to move from the current constitution to adopting a new constitution which appropriates three characteristics in the methodology of its drafting and in its form and content.
With regard to methodology, we made sure - for the first time in the history of our country - that the constitution will be made by Moroccans for all Moroccans.
With regard to the form, it is based on a new architecture that gave importance to all its chapters from the preamble, as part and parcel of the constitution, to the last chapters which increased from 108 to 180 articles.
As for the content, it constitutes a specific model of a Moroccan constitution based on two complementary pillars.
1. The first pillar is based on adhering to the entrenched principles of the Moroccan nation which I am entrusted with upholding within the framework of a Muslim state in which the king, the commander of the faithful, is entrusted with protecting the creed and religion and of guaranteeing the freedom to practice religious rituals. The draft constitution also confirmed the status of our country as part of the greater Maghreb, as well as its commitment to build the Maghreb union, to consolidate the Arab and Muslim brotherly relations and African solidarity and to diversify relations of cooperation and partnership with its European and Mediterranean neighbors as well as with other world states. That Morocco will become a modern state which adheres to UN charters and which plays effective role within the international community.
2. The second pillar is being manifested by the consecration of the foundation and mechanisms of the parliamentary characteristics of the Moroccan political system which is based on the sovereignty of the nation and the supremacy of the constitution as a source of all powers and the linking of responsibility with accountability within an effective and rationalized constitution the core of which is separation of powers and their independence and balance. The main objective of the constitution is the freedom and dignity of the citizen. Among the characteristics of the separation of powers and clarification of their prerogatives is the dividing of the Chapter 19 of the current constitution into two chapters.
King's Role
1. An independent chapter which concerns the exclusive religious prerogatives of the king, the commander of the faithful and the head of the supreme scientific council, which is being promoted to a constitutional institution.
2. Another chapter identifies the status of the king as the head of state, its supreme representative, the symbol of the nation's unity, the guarantor of the state's continuity and the kingdom's independence and sovereignty as well as its territorial integrity, in addition to being the loyal guide and the supreme arbiter entrusted with the democratic option and with the proper functioning of constitutional institutions, and who is above all political affiliations.
The king exercises his sovereign and arbitration duties stipulated by this chapter on the basis of the requirements of other chapters which are openly stipulated by the constitution, given the fact that legislation will remain the exclusive prerogatives of the parliament.
Diversity of Morocco's Identity, Culture
My dear people! The official draft of the constitution is seen as more than a supreme law of the kingdom. We see it as a solid foundation for the specific model of the Moroccan development, but also a new historic contact between the monarchy and the people. This is obvious in the following 10 main axes:
1. Constitutional consecration of the monarchy's citizenship and citizen king, by stipulating that the sanctity of the person of the king must not be violated, and that he must enjoy his due respect as a king, the commander of the faithful and the head of state.
1.. Limiting the king's legal age to 18 years, instead of 16 years, along the lines of all his Moroccan brothers and sisters.
2. Entrusting the chairmanship of the guardianship council to the head of the Constitutional Court, which is responsible for the respect of the constitution and which constitutes the core of the prerogatives of this council, and making the court's membership include all constitutional authorities by adding the membership of the head of the government, and the president-delegate of the supreme council of the judicial authority in addition to the representation of scholars through the membership of the secretary general of the higher scientific council.
3. Constitutionalization of Tamazight (Berber) as an official language of the kingdom beside Arabic, the basis of cohesion among of the components of the unified national identity, which is rich with the diversification of its Arab, Muslim, Amazigh (Berber), African Sahara, Andalusian, Hebrew and Mediterranean sources. The draft constitution consecrates Arabic as an official language of the kingdom and stipulates that the state would be committed to protect and promote it. It also stipulates the constitutionalization of Tamazight as an official language within the context of an outstanding initiative which is seen as the throne in the process of rehabilitating Tamazight as a gain for all Moroccans. It will be constitutionalized by a gradual process through an organic law specifying how to be integrated in education and in the sectors with priority in public life.
In parallel to that, the draft constitution stipulates the promotion of all Moroccan linguistic and cultural expressions, especially Al-Hasaniya as the original culture of our dear Saharan provinces.
In order to fulfil our commitment to enable our youth and human resources to join the society of knowledge and globalization and to master advanced science and technology, the draft constitution stipulates the need to study and master the most popular world language. This will be done within a cohesive strategy which consolidates national unity, and will be implemented by a higher council whose duty is to promote the Moroccan culture, the national and official languages, and to rehabilitate its institutions, including the institution in charge of promoting the Arabic language.
Human Rights Issue
Constitutionalization of all human rights, as is the consensus worldwide, with all the mechanisms of their protection and guarantee of their practice. This will make the Moroccan constitution, a constitution for human rights and a charter for the rights and duties of citizenship. In this context, the supremacy of international charters have been constitutionalized -- as approved by Morocco - over the national legislations, and the equality of men and women in their civil rights within the context of respect for the rulings of the constitution and the laws of the kingdom which are inspired from Islam in addition to confirming the equality of men and women in all political, economic, social and cultural rights, and to setting up mechanisms to promote equality between men and women.
The draft constitution also consecrates all human rights, including presumption of innocence, guaranteeing conditions for a fair trial, criminalizing torture, forced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and all forms of discrimination and practices which debase human dignity, in addition to guaranteeing the freedom of opinion and expression and the right to seek information.
King, Government and Parliament
Meanwhile, the constitution guarantees the right of the working class, social justice and national solidarity. Consecration of freedom of private initiative and the rule of law with regard to business have all been consolidated.
The democratic effluence of the executive power under the leadership of the head of government. In this context, the constitutional status of the prime minister will be promoted to the head of government, and of the executive body which will be appointed from the political party which leads the parliamentary elections, to materialize the emergence of the government in direct general elections.
To consecrate the full responsibility of the head of government over ministers, the constitution empowers him with the prerogatives of their proposals, coordinating the government action and overseeing the public administration as he is entrusted with the prerogatives to appoint by a decree in civilian portfolios according to a regulatory law which identifies the principles and equal opportunities for all Moroccans in seeking public office jobs on the basis of meritocracy, transparency and specific criteria.
The head of the government has the prerogatives to propose to the king, after an initiative by the concerned ministers, to appoint in the ministerial council in some high public jobs such as governors, ambassadors and heads of internal public security, given the fact that appointments in military portfolios remain the exclusive and sovereign prerogatives of the king, the supreme army commander and chief of the general staff of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR). The draft constitution also empowers the head of the government with the prerogatives to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, and consecrates the need to consult the king before announcing a state of emergency, dissolving the parliament. It identifies the criteria of every case in a way to guarantee the separation of powers, their balance and cooperation.
To constitutionally enable the government to assume its organizational and executive duties, the council of government has been constitutionalized and its prerogatives have been identified and clarified in harmony, complementarity and distinction with the council of ministers.
The ministerial council meets under the chairmanship of the king, through his initiative, or after a request by the head of government who participates in its proceedings in the presence of ministers only. The king can delegate his chairmanship - on the basis of an identified agenda - to the head of government to consolidate his executive powers.
As for the council of government, it meets under the chairmanship of its head and through his initiative with the participation of all its members.
With regard to prerogatives, their differentiation is manifested by empowering the council of government with extensive decisional executive prerogatives and other rotating prerogatives which will be conferred to the ministerial council to decide according to its strategic, arbitration and guidance prerogatives including the safeguarding of macroeconomic and financial balances which have become a constitutional rule.
Establishing a parliamentary authority which exercises extensive legislative and control prerogatives. The draft constitution consecrates the supremacy of the status of the Chamber of Deputies by empowering it with the final decision on the approval of legislative texts and the consolidation of its prerogatives in controlling the government, particularly by consecrating the accountability of the government before it [word indistinct] the legislative authority, to enact all laws and to extend the sphere of law to increase from the current 30 spheres to more than 60 in the proposed constitution.
Eager to moralize the parliamentary action, the draft constitution stipulates the constitutionalization of limiting parliamentary immunity to expressing opinion only and not to include public law crimes. It has also stipulated to cancel the higher court which deals with ministers to consecrate their equality with citizens before the law and courts.
With regard to the Chamber of Counsellors, eager to rationalize its make up, the proposed constitution stipulates that its members range between 90 and 120 members. In this context and in order to honor the request which was submitted to me by the trade unions and which was backed by political parties with regard to the representation of trade unions in the upper house, I have decided within my arbitration duties that the draft constitution includes the representation of most representative trade unions, professional and business organizations. It is a decision which emanated from the core Moroccan monarchy's social system and from our system of governance which is based on promoting the social status of our citizens as our main concern politically and practically.
Judicial Power
With regard to our citizens overseas, they will be empowered with parliamentary representations once the democratic approach bears fruit, given the fact that they enjoy the right to vote in the two parliamentary chambers.
To empower the parliamentary opposition with a special status and mechanisms in order to consolidate its role and status in enriching parliamentary action both in terms of legislation and control in a way to enable it to secure proportional representation in all parliamentary institutions. The draft constitution also stipulates that the head of government presents an interim report on the government action, answers questions concerning the general policy and to reduces the quorum to present control petitioner, to form inquiry committees, refer draft laws to the constitutional council to enable parliamentary committees to question officials in charge of public administrations and companies under the responsibility of the concerned ministers.
To entrench a judicial authority independent from the executive and legislative authorities in order to consolidate the independence of the judiciary which I guarantee by clearly stipulating in the draft of the new constitution that a court verdict if is issued in the name of the king must be issued on the basis of law and protection of the sanctity of the judiciary. Therefore, the draft constitution constitutionalizes the criminalization of any intervention by the authority, money or anything that could influence the judiciary. We have also set up the supreme council of the judicial authority as a constitutional institution chaired by the king to replace the supreme council of the judiciary, to enable it to be independent both administratively and financially, and to empower the chief justice of the supreme court with the duties of the deputized head instead of the currently justice minister in order to materialize the separation of powers.
In parallel to that, we have consolidated the make up of the new council by increasing the representation of elected judges, and female judges and in a way to guarantee the membership of personalities and institutions concerning human rights and defence of the independence of the judiciary. We have also expanded the prerogatives of the council to include, in addition to managing the professional life of the judges, the duty of examining and expressing opinion on legislative organizational texts which concern the judiciary.
To confirm the supremacy of the constitution and of the law, the Constitutional Council has been promoted to a constitutional court with extensive prerogatives which include, in addition to the current prerogatives, to control the constitutionality of international conventions and to resolve conflicts between the state and regions.
Civil Society, Other Institutions
Constitutionalization of some important institutions, while leaving the door open to set up other institutions and mechanisms in order to consolidate citizenship and democratic participation through legislative or organizational texts. Therefore, we have constitutionalized the National Human Rights Council, the Wasit foundation, the council of the Moroccan community abroad, the higher body of the audiovisual and the higher council for education, training and scientific research. We have expanded the prerogatives of the Economic and Social Council to include environmental issues. We have also consolidated the constitutional status of the political parties, trade unions and professional organizations as well as civil society organizations by devoting several constitution chapters to each of them. In order to enable the youths to enjoy an institutional space to express themselves, we are committed to set up a council for youths to represent a proposition force to enable them to contribute, in a democratic and citizenship spirit, in the building of Morocco of unity, dignity and social justice.
Consolidation of the mechanisms of good governance, moralization of public life and fight against corruption by creating a national institution to be in harmony on this issue by consolidating the role of the higher and regional accounts' councils to control public finance, to entrench the principles of transparency, responsibility and accountability and to be prevented from escaping punishment, in addition to the constitutionalization of the council of competition and the anti-corruption body.
Security and Decentralization
Given the fact that security, in its strategic sense, has become a world challenge, we are committed to strengthen our country with a consultative institutional mechanism in the form of the higher council for security, to be chaired by, and include in its membership heads of legislative, executive and legislative bodies, in addition to ministers, officials and concerned personalities. It will also be in charge of internal and external strategic security issues, and it will form a force of proposition to beef up security in our country.
My dear people! Our comprehensive view of true democracy and the basics of good governance are not limited to reshuffling of central authorities, but are based on delegating authority and resources from the centre to the regions within the context of an advanced regionalism which we view as the pillar of a radical reform and modernization of state institutions.
In this view axe 10, concerns constitutional consecration of a unified Morocco of regions, Morocco which is based on democratic decentralization in the service of integrated and sustained human growth within the context of the unity of the state and the homeland and its territorial integrity, in addition to the principles of national and regional equality and solidarity.
In order to highlight this strategic option in the draft constitution, a chapter was devoted to advanced regionalism on the basis of the framework of reference which I announced in my 9 March historic address. A regulatory law will identify the prerogatives of the state, regions and sources, mechanisms and regional organization.
My dear people, regardless of how perfect a constitution is, it is not an objective in itself. It is a means for establishing democratic institutions which require reforms and political rehabilitation in order to achieve our collective aspiration, which is to guarantee development and to provide the means of a dignified life for citizens.
Proceeding from this, when your first servant king conducts his national duty he will be voting yes to the draft of the new constitution which will be put to a national referendum because I am firmly convinced that the draft of this constitution adopts all democratic institutions, development principles and mechanisms of good governance, and because it guarantees the dignity of all Moroccans and their rights within the framework of equality and supremacy of law. Indeed, I will vote yes for this draft because I am convinced that it will give a big boost to find a lasting solution to the just cause of the Moroccan identity of our dear Sahara on the basis of our autonomy initiative. It will also consolidate Morocco's leading role at the regional level as a state which is distinguished by its unique democratic process.
I urge political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations which took part in all freedom and commitment in drawing up this modern constitutional charter from the beginning to the end, to work to mobilize the Moroccan people, not only to vote in its favor, but to espouse it as it is the best means to realize the legitimate aspirations of our conscious youths, indeed the aspirations of all Moroccans; to realize our collective aspirations, to consolidate the building of a Morocco of serenity, unity, stability, democracy, development, prosperity, justice, dignity, rule of law and a state of institution.
My loyal people! You will find me in the forefront of those who work to implement this modern draft constitution which strengthens the pillars of a system of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, after it is adopted -- with Gods' help, in a popular referendum on 1 July.

No comments: