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Morocco Government

The government has three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch comprises the king, a hereditary monarch who serves as head of state, and the prime minister, who is appointed by the king following elections to serve as head of government. The king appoints the cabinet ministers on the recommendation of the prime minister and presides over the Council of Ministers. He has the power to dismiss the ministers, dissolve parliament, call for new elections, and issue decrees. The king also serves as head of the armed forces, head of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, which appoints Supreme Court judges, and chief religious leader. The Moroccan Constitution provides for a strong monarchy, but a weak Parliament and judicial branch. Dominant authority rests with the King. The king's authority exceeds that of the legislative and judicial branches, although the 1996 constitution included measures to increase the legislative branch's influence. The King presides over the Council of Ministers; appoints the Prime Minister following legislative elections; appoints all members of the government taking into account the Prime Minister's recommendations; and may, at his discretion, terminate the tenure of any minister, dissolve the Parliament, call for new elections, or rule by decree. The King is the Commander in Chief of the military and holds the title of Amir al-Mou'minin, or Commander of the Faithful, the country's religious leader.

The king as head of state appoints the prime minister, who is the titular head of government. The constitution authorizes the prime minister to nominate all government ministers, although the king also may nominate ministers and has the power to replace any minister. The government consists of 34 cabinet level posts, including the prime minister and five sovereign ministerial posts that traditionally report directly to the king (i.e., interior, foreign affairs, justice, endowments and Islamic affairs, and defense). The MOI nominates provincial governors (walis) and local district administrative officials (caids) to the king, who appoints them. The king also appoints the constitutional council that determines whether laws passed are constitutional.

The constitution may not be changed without the king's approval. The constitution provides that neither the monarchical system nor the measures related to the religion of Islam are subject to revision. Only the king has the power to put constitutional amendment proposals to a national referendum. Amendments can be proposed directly by the king or parliament and must pass both houses with a two-thirds majority. Once a royal decree has been issued, the amendment can be sent to a national referendum; however, the king has the authority to bypass any national referendum. Citizens elect municipal councils directly; citizens elect regional councils through representatives.

The law provides for regular, free elections on the basis of universal suffrage, including elections to parliament. Citizens vote for the legislature from which the government is drawn; therefore, they had an indirect say in choosing a major part of the executive branches of the government. However, this did not apply to the monarchy, and citizens did not have the right to fully change their government.

Since the constitutional reform of 1996, the legislative branch now has a bicameral parliament, consisting of the Chamber of Representatives (lower house) and the Chamber of Counselors (upper house). The 325 members of the Chamber of Representatives are elected to six-year terms by direct, universal suffrage. The 270 members of the House of Counselors are elected indirectly by local councils, professional organizations, and labor syndicates, whose members are popularly elected. Counselors serve nine-year terms; one-third of the counselors stand for election every three years.

Parliament's powers are limited, but were expanded under the 1992 and 1996 constitutional revisions to include some budgetary matters. Parliament's still rather limited powers include the right to approve bills, question government ministers, and establish commissions of inquiry to investigate government actions. Parliament holds the government accountable through the ability of the Chamber of Representatives to force it to resign through a vote of no confidence and through the ability of the Chamber of Counselors to adopt a motion of censure. Though never used, the lower chamber of Parliament may dissolve the government through a majority vote of no confidence.

Since early in his reign, King Mohammed VI called for expanded employment opportunities, economic development, meaningful education, and increased housing availability. The government has been pursuing an ambitious program of modernization and revitalization of the country's infrastructure (such as roads, trains, communications, and water) and national economy (such as support for Moroccan businesses, preparations for competition, and modernization of modes of production). In order to create employment opportunities, the government is promoting investment in the tourism, industrial, fishing, and service industries, and is ameliorating the education system.

According to the constitution, Morocco has an independent judiciary headed by the Supreme Court, but in practice the judiciary is subject to executive influence and corruption. Morocco's common law court system has four levels: communal and district courts, courts of first instance, appeals courts, and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has five chambers: constitutional, penal, administrative, social, and civil. The constitutional chamber is authorized to review legislative measures. The Supreme Council of the Judiciary, headed by the king, appoints Supreme Court judges. Other courts include administrative courts, commercial courts, and a military tribunal.

The judiciary, often inefficient and believed to be swayed by corruption, was not fully independent and was subject to influence, particularly in sensitive cases such as those dealing with the monarchy, religion, and Western Sahara. There are administrative as well as judicial remedies for alleged wrongs.

Morocco is divided into 16 administrative regions (further broken into provinces and prefectures); the regions are administered by Walis (governors) appointed by the King. Walis, or governors, appointed by the king and regional councils are responsible for managing the country's 16 regions. Each province has a local government consisting of a centrally appointed governor and an assembly elected by municipal councils. These provincial governments handle local responsibilities delegated to them by the central government such as rural investment and some social services. Each municipality has a mayor and an elected municipal council, which are responsible for basic services involving public health and safety. Local governments lack autonomy from the central government, which is responsible for taxation and budgeting at all levels of public administration. However, in recent years the central government has been trying to boost the authority of local governments.




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