Moroccan voters on Friday overwhelmingly approved a revised version of the constitution, highlighted by fewer powers reserved for their king. With 94 percent of polling stations reporting and 98 percent of voters in approval, Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui announced [AFP report] that the revisions had passed. Under the new constitution, King Mohammed VI, who previously enjoyed almost absolute power, remains head of the army, but a variety of his other political powers are now held by the prime minister and parliament. In addition to curbing the king's powers [Al Jazeera report], the revision also guarantees more rights for women and makes Berber, an indigenous language, official. Mohammed announced the changes [JURIST report] last month, which many viewed as an attempt to put an end to the "Arab Spring" street protests that had been becoming more prevalent throughout the region. Prior to the king's announcement, in April, thousands of protesters engaged in peaceful demonstrations [JURIST report], vocalizing their demands for greater reform to the constitution as well as an end to corruption within the country.
Similar protests have occurred recently throughout the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder], and have resulted in the resignations of Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [JURIST reports]. Protests were also widespread in Libya [JURIST backgrounder], where leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his inner circle have been accused of perpetrating violence against protesters [JURIST report]. Last month, a three-person commission for the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] appointed to investigate violence in Libya published a report [JURIST report] saying that government forces have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes under orders from Gaddafi and other high-ranking officials. The commission's 92-page report said Libyan authorities have committed crimes against humanity such as acts constituting murder, imprisonment, and other severe deprivations of physical liberties, torture, forced disappearances, and rape "as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack."