Updated

Moroccans to Cast Ballots in July 1 Referendum on Constitutional Reforms, Making Historic Choice for Change with Votes, not Violence

World Leaders, Members of Congress, Experts Praise Example for Arab Spring

Washington, DC (June 29)—As the tumult of the Arab Spring turns to summer, Moroccans at home and abroad will cast their votes in a historic July 1 referendum on Constitutional reforms to strengthen Morocco’s democratic institutions and establish it as a constitutional monarchy. The reforms—announced on June 17 by His Majesty King Mohammed VI after input from Moroccan citizens, civic organizations, trade unions, and political parties—have drawn international praise as a positive roadmap for the region.

Morocco’s reforms are the “culmination” of decades of efforts to democratize and open its political system, said Ahmed Herzenni, President of Morocco’s Advisory Council on Human Rights and a member of the Constitutional Reform Commission. Moroccans will “vote for or against these changes this Friday,” he said in a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Herzenni acknowledged the role of peaceful protesters in Morocco this spring, saying they “should be credited with focusing us on the need to move change forward.”

Morocco is opening 520 polling stations worldwide at embassies, consulates, and other centers to allow Moroccan voters living abroad to participate. In the US, twelve polling stations will be open July 1-3—in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, and the Washington, DC area.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Chairwoman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, is one of the Members of Congress who have voiced their support. “King Mohammed’s proposed constitutional changes are a welcome start in what must be a long-term process to increase democracy and enhance stability in Morocco. I welcome proactive measures to strengthen parliament, safeguard judicial independence, promote freedom of thought, uphold human rights values, and encourage freedom of religious practice in Morocco. If adopted, expanded, and fully implemented, Morocco’s reform agenda could serve as an example for the region.”

Praise for the reforms has come from the United States, European Union, France, Britain, Spain, United Nations, Arab League, and Council of Europe, which recently made Morocco its first “partner for democracy.” Editorials and commentaries have also been favorable, including those in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The Hill, as have policy experts at The Brookings Institution, Woodrow Wilson Center, and elsewhere.

Morocco’s reforms are “a shining star in the Arab Spring,” wrote Joel D. Hirst, International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in a recent Huffington Post column. “Morocco has again emerged as the leader of the Arab world,” he added. “This model of Arab governance could represent the future; and the example of increasingly liberal Morocco could go a long way to convince other Middle East and North African countries to listen to their own people and adopt the gradual, peaceful reforms which will provide well-being and freedom.”

Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director at The Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, said Morocco is making an “audacious bet” with its reforms, which offer “a path to the future that balances the competing demands of stability and openness to change.” He added, “the United States and its European partners would do well to invest their resources, political and economic, in supporting Morocco as it undertakes the necessary—but far from risk-free—transition to a more open and democratic political process.”

For the Full Text of His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s June 17th speech, go to:
http://www.map.ma/eng/sections/main1/hm_the_king_addresse/view

For Answers to FAQs on Reforms in Morocco, go to:
http://www.moroccanamericanpolicy.org/upload/media/SP_Constitutional%20Reforms%20FAQ%2027June11FINAL.pdf

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The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. For more, please visit www.moroccoonthemove.com

This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.

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