World News

Morocco's king seeks new development model, urges government reshuffle

RABAT (Reuters) - King Mohammed VI of Morocco on Monday announced the launch later this year of a committee charged with elaborating a new development model to tackle social inequalities, while also urging a government reshuffle.

FILE PHOTO: King Mohammed VI of Morocco reviews a guard of honour at the National palace during his state visit to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

The committee will serve as an advisory body to make suggestions to improve reforms in fields such as education, health, agriculture, investment and taxation, said the monarch in a speech marking twenty years of his rule.

The 55-year-old king enumerated some key achievements of his rule, with emphasis on infrastructure developments such as highways, high-speed railway, ports, renewable energy and urban development.

“What undermines this positive result is that the effects of the progress and the achievements made has not, unfortunately, been felt by all segments of the Moroccan society”, he said.

Special emphasis was also laid on the need to open up the economy to foreign investors and revamp the public sector. Such projects and reforms require new leaders in decision-making positions, he said.

“I ask the head of government to submit to me, after the summer break, proposals to fill executive posts in the government and the civil service with high-level national elites chosen on merit and competence”, he said.

The king also reiterated his “policy of the outstretched hand toward Algeria”, invoking the “brotherhood” and “joy” expressed in Morocco after the Algerian team won the African Cup of Nations.

Shared borders have been closed between the two North African neighbours since 1994. The two countries are at loggerheads over a set of issues including the Western Sahara, a disputed territory considered by Morocco as an integral part of its sovereign lands, but also claimed by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.

Morocco has largely been insulated from the turmoil that hit North Africa and the Middle East since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 although it regularly sees protests over economic and social problems.

The monarchy, under pressure from protesters, in a 2011 constitutional referendum delegated some of its powers to an elected government.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, editing by G Crosse