Political liberalization has been the general theme characterizing King Muhammad’s first year in power. Last November, the King introduced reforms designed to end disturbances in the Western Sahara region. He proposed holding elections for a royal advisory council in the disputed territory and offered free transportation for students and handicapped citizens of the region. The King has repeatedly affirmed his country's commitment to implementing a UN-sponsored peace plan on the future of the Western Sahara, so long as all potential voters can participate in a planned referendum. Divergent views regarding voter eligibility have already caused a protracted delay of this referendum.
Reform of media legislation is also progressing. In mid-June, Morocco’s Communication Minister announced that the government is revising the press laws to cancel prison penalties for crimes related to publishing. The new law also reduces the current executive authority concerning newspapers and will shift this power to the judiciary. Parliament is also expected to discuss another law that will allow the establishment of private radio and television stations in Morocco before the end of the present year.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)