An explosion rocked the red city of Marrakech earlier today. The blast occurred around 11:30am local time at Argana Café right at the heart of the bustling and colorful Jama'a el Fna Square. The café and its famed terrace serve as a popular hangout spot for tourists and locals. The early tally of casualties reveals 14 dead and some 20 injured (see latest photos here or here). This is the second terrorist attack in Marrakech after the 1994 Atlas Asni hotel assault. For the first time in its long history, the fabled Jama'a el Fna Square is sad and empty tonight. Instead of the nightly festival of soothsayers, storytellers, mobile restaurants, singers and dancers, the square is a zone for investigative squads.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
So far, political parties and civil society organizations have offered their own versions of proposed reforms to the constitution. Their proposals largely reflect the wide ranging demands for complete overhaul of the constitution including the (in)famous article 19 of the constitution that sets the king as the purveyor of both spiritual and temporal powers. This article does not give effective powers to the king, but endows him with a symbolic status above all political forces in the kingdom, as "Amir al-Mu'minin (commander of the faithful), the supreme representative of the nation and the symbol of unity..the guarantor the perpetuation and continuity of the State."
Real reforms will have to focus on the principles of separation of powers and popular sovereignty. Setting those only as the backbone for a massive campaign to bring about accountability and transparency in the public sphere. This means dismantling the existing kleptocratic and nepotistic structure of government. The regime knows that whatever the constitutional revisions are in June will have to be vast in scope and radically different from earlier constitutional reforms. Moroccan society is growing anxious and bolder as they directly address their monarch with demands direly needed in a country placed to be a model for constitutional monarchism.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
As the Middle East continues to witness new waves of protests. Last week, Tunisians took to the streets to voice out dissatisfaction with the pace of change two months after the ouster of Ben 'Ali. Yemenis continue to display the same steadfast resolve against the thuggish regime of Saleh, who has unleashed the full might of his security forces killing scores of peaceful protesters. However, today he agreed to enter into talks with the opposition in Saudi Arabia. This might be a bit too late given Saleh's early intransigence that proved deadly for his own people.