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History of Morocco

Recent History

In 1999, Mohammed VI ascended to the Moroccan throne just prior to his 35th birthday. The young King accelerated the more liberal trends that began late in his father's rule. In his first speech as King, he promised the amnesty of nearly 50,000 prisoners and apologised for past political repressions. More significantly, he sacked the powerful and much feared long-time head of the security forces, the infamous 'Butcher Basri'. Still, Morocco remains a monarchy in which the limits of political tolerance reflect the King's personal views.

The new King has made economic development a priority. He has continued his father's policies of economic liberalisation and privatisation of state industries, forced into place by stagnant growth rates going back to the 1980's. The economy is still heavily dependent on agriculture, which has been hampered by droughts. Unemployment is high, running at rates of 20% in the cities and causing fear of social unrest.

Mohammed VI has shown himself to be most innovative in the field of social policy, and more specifically, in women's rights. In 2002, the King married Salma Bennani, a computer engineer - an event that appeared to symbolise acceptance of an increasingly modern role for women. In 2004, the government adopted landmark changes to the Moudawana, or Family Law, aimed at 'lifting the inequity imposed on women, protecting children's rights, and safeguarding men's dignity'. The new legislation grants unprecedented rights and protections for women concerning marriage, divorce and custody of children.

      King Mohammed VI                         Official Residence of King of Morocco in Rabat

History: Independence   Moroccan Culture: Introduction

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