Moroccans were voting Friday in what the government promised would be the first free and fair elections in the North African nation's history.
For the first time, winning lawmakers were to include at least 30 women. The elections were the first under King Mohammed VI.
On Thursday, police in the northern town of Berkane detained an election worker from a left-wing party and charged him with "insults against the monarchy" after calling at an election rally for constitutional changes to dilute the king's authority, said his lawyer, Mustapha Bencherif. The 43-year-old man, Mohamed Loukah, faces 1 to 5 years in prison if convicted, said the lawyer, according to AP.
A total of 5,865 candidates, grouped in 1,774 lists presented by 26 political parties and independent candidates (five lists), were vying for the votes of 14,000,513 electors.
The parties included an Islamic fundamentalist party that expected to improve on the 14 seats it held in the previous 325-seat parliament.
The ministry of the interior, the authority in charge of organizing the elections, has mobilized 300,000 agents and staffers in the operation for which a budget of some US$ 40 million was allocated, MAP reported.
Polls opened Friday at 8 a.m. (0800 GMT) and were to close 11 hours later. More than 14 million voters were registered. Preliminary results were expected Saturday morning. (Albawaba.com)
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