IER wages democratic bet

19 December 2005 by Pierre Hazan

On December 16, Moroccan King Mohammed VI ordered that the Equity and Reconciliation Commission's (IER) final report be made public. The King's dahir (royal decree) establishing the IER has been interpreted in radically different ways since it was issued on January 7, 2004. For some, this commission - the first of its kind in the Arab-Islamic world - was a source of hope for democratization. The many skeptics, on the other hand, saw it as a cunning tool for Morocco's king, designed to reinforce his legitimacy and to project the image of a modern country concerned with human rights. What has IER revealed?

First observation: the seventeen commissioners did not lack ambition. They issued the expected recommendations, including that of granting compensation to nearly 10,000 victims of the "years of lead," and one stressing the need to adopt mechanisms designed to ensure that massive human rights violations never occur again. But they did not stop there. They are recommending "reinforcing the principle of separation of powers," and placing a "constitutional ban on interference by the executive branch with the organization and operations of the judicial branch." Through these proposed constitutional amendments, the IER appears to be proposing in veiled words that Morocco move from an executive monarchy, where the King has total power, to a constitutional monarchy where these powers would be diluted.

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