Large 'yes' to Moroccan reforms but opponents cry foul

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Large 'yes' to Moroccan reforms but opponents cry foul

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The constitutional changes proposed by King Mohammed of Morocco have been backed by an overwhelming majority in Friday’s referendum, according to the Interior Ministry.

With almost all votes counted, it says 98% said ‘yes’ to plans that would give more power to the prime minister and to parliament. The monarch would remain head of the military, religious authorities and the judiciary.

Turnout is estimated at over 72%.

Against a background of the Arab spring, there has been much international interest.

“In my opinion, this experience is an Arabic one,” said an Egyptian journalist. “It’s influenced by the Arab revolutions. Opinion polls and ordinary Moroccan citizens agree that the march to reform began when King Mohammed came to power.”

But protests earlier this year are a reminder that many Moroccans are dissatisfied.

They say the changes do not go far enough. One activist said poverty, illiteracy and fear of the state influenced the vote.

Others want to know why millions of Moroccans of voting age were not registered.

But the movement has failed to attract the level of support that toppled leaders elsewhere.