Moroccan king holds firm after call for less power

RABAT Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:08pm GMT

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RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco's King Mohammed said on Monday he would not cede to "demagoguery" a day after thousands of Moroccans took to the street to demand he give up some of his powers to a newly elected government.

The monarch, addressing a ceremony for long-awaited appointments of members of the advisory Social and Economic Council, said he wanted "irreversible" reforms, but they must be formulated in accordance with the "Moroccan model."

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, but the king is empowered to dissolve the legislature, impose a state of emergency and have a key say in government appointments including the prime minister.

"By setting up the Economic and Social Council we give a strong push to the reformist dynamic that we have initiated since the mission of leading our faithful people has been bestowed on us," he told some 100 members of the council.

"We have constantly sought to ensure that the founding of an effective democracy goes hand in hand ... with sustainable human development.

"If we launch this council today, it is because we have constantly refused to cede to demagoguery and improvisation in our action aimed to consolidate our singular model of democracy and development," he added.

The remarks were carried by the official MAP news agency.

Political commentators have said demands for constitutional reform have been around for decades, but this is the first time they have been embraced by a broad spectrum of Moroccans, from apolitical youths to leftists to Islamists and the indigenous Amazigh.

The interior ministry said that 37,000 people in 53 towns and cities took part in the protests which also demanded the dismissal of the government, the dissolution of parliament and a clampdown on alleged corruption and nepotism in the public administration.

Organisers of the protests say some 300,000 turned out nationwide.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

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