Because the King Says “Yes”

Posted on | juni 25, 2011 | No Comments

UN Photo/Michelle Poiré

Before King Mohammed VI concluded his historic speech announcing the greatly anticipated new constitution that he alleged would make Morocco into a viable democracy, thousands of jubilant Moroccans – some unsubstantiated reports described intoxicated crack heads enlisted by government handlers – flooded the streets of Casablanca and Rabat waving flags, enskying pictures of the king, and voicing their unconditional approval of the new document.

Some argue that it accords unique rights and freedoms to individuals, it confers on Moroccans all the rights contained in international agreements the government has signed, it limits the King’s political nomination prerogatives since the president of the government will be appointed from the party leading the election and therefore chosen by the people, it grants the appointed president executive political authority. These are great concessions Moroccan fought hard for, but such arguments make the ignis matuus even more persuasive.

I read the new constitution twice; I felt as though I was gazing at a Mauritus Cornelis Escher’s Klimmen en dalen. I immediately thought of a Kohler Escale dual-flush toilet; I wondered if its efficient 1.6 gallons flush would swallow such a heavy load of fatuity. I can not wrap my mind around the fact that for a country that has thirty four political parties, such a document, meant as a judicial backbone, but that many believe makes a mockery of Morocco’s men of law, politicians, and the simple citizen, was finalized in a mere three months without as much as a contentious political peep. One needs not be a legal scholar to perceive amidst the legalese formulas that the document hardly strives to warrant power-sharing. At its core, the new constitution is an infinitely ductile tool of monarchic powers. It allows for, in fact encourages, royal overreach on political, security, economic, social, and religious affairs. It provides the king with the constitutional authority to override the executive political decisions of the president of the government. It allows him, if he so chooses, to act contrary to the advisory of the constitutional counsels. Its articles, specifically article III dealing with the monarchy, contains fundamental divides Morocco’s legislature, if for a nanosecond it stopped lavishing cowardly deference on the king, would find impossible to bridge were it to adhere to the most rudimentary democratic template. The judicial processes it outlines are flimsy at best and will not sustain the rule of law. Above the people’s voice, that of the King remains authoritative. The leash is not being broken; it is just being reeled out.

To understand the complexity of the King’s power, one should consider how Morocco’s layman defines it. “The King is everything,” he would say. Indeed, he is the deus ex machina whose powers by far exceed that of all political parties and civil institutions combined. He is above the constitution and has no obligation to the law or the people. People’s vote is inconsequential. Morocco’s older generation, the one that survived French colonization and saw the face of Mohammed V, the current king’s grandfather, on a full moon, believes Mohammed VI to have “baraka,” divine blessing, and to govern by an edict from Allah. Such Moroccans and younger ones who were inculcated with such ludicrous beliefs will vote in favor of the new constitution simply because the King tasked them to do so. Such power is unfathomable to Western minds who hold the sanctity of the law above that of mere mortals.

The government, whose cast of unsavory characters remains in place, already conveyed its confidence the new constitution will be voted into law in the nationwide referendum scheduled for the 1st of July. I suspect it will overwhelmingly pass muster, not so much because its proponents have determined, after close scrutiny, it enshrines the principles of democracy and the fundamentals of equality of all Moroccans before the law, but because the king sanctioned it and urged the political parties to mobilize the population to vote favorably. In so doing, Mohammed VI transgressed article III, section 42 of the new constitution describing him as a “supreme arbiter that transcends political partisanship, upholds the nation’s democratic choices, and guarantees the adequacy of constitutional institutions.” He, of course, cannot be probed for such unethical action; section 46 of the constitution protects him from accountability. This is an instance among many that illustrates how the new constitution is inconsistent with the most basic tenets of democracy – no one is above the law, not even a king.

AUTHOR: Ahmed T. B. / Cabalamuse
E-MAIL: cabalafuse [at]


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