Moroccan king announces constitutional reform

However, Morocco has been spared from the kind of large-scale unrest that has swept some other Arab states.

The parliament and government will be granted more prerogatives, said the king Wednesday, who now holds key powers such as appointing the prime minister and key ministers.

The prime minister will represent the party that took the most votes in elections, the king said in a speech to the nation.

The new constitution will also guarantee the respect of human rights and the separation of powers, devolve more powers to the country's regions and recognise the importance of Amazigh (Berber) culture for the Moroccan identity.

Tens of thousands of Moroccans demonstrated around the country for more democracy Feb 20, and smaller rallies have been staged frequently since then.

Democratic reforms had been planned in Morocco even before the turmoil began in Arab countries. However, the unrest is seen as having sped them up.

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