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Moroccans Vote For New Parliament

The Moroccan parliamentary election has been brought forward in response to the Arab Spring uprisings earlier this year.
Moroccans have been voting for a new parliament in the first elections since pro-democracy protests in the country earlier this year.

Democracy campaigners had called for a boycott of the poll on November 25, saying that the ruling monarchy isn't committed to real change.

Like elsewhere in the Arab world, Moroccans took to the streets in the first half of 2011 calling for more democracy, and King Mohammed VI responded by amending the constitution and bringing forward elections.

But activists say that since then the government has grown less receptive to calls for reform.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch organization said that, since October 20, the authorities have interrogated more than 100 activists for advocating a boycott of the parliamentary vote.

The BBC reports that the election is expected to be a close contest between a moderate Islamist opposition party and a new coalition of liberals with close ties to the royal palace.

Both parliament and the prime minister will have greater powers under the new constitution.

compiled from agency reports