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Morocco Elections 2007
Election countdown in video
Explore the issues facing the North African kingdom in a series of reports.
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2007 11:38 GMT

Moroccans will elect representatives, but ultimate power remains with the king 

As Morocco goes to the polls on September 7, Al Jazeera explores the issues facing the North African kingdom in a series of video reports.

We profile a country struggling to decide what kind of a democracy it should become.

Years of cautious reform has helped it shed a repressive past. Improvements have been made on issues such as human rights and free speech.

Watch here our countdown to the elections and what lies ahead for a country in transition.

Morocco's women fighting for power

On the campaign trail in Casablanca, Maguy Kakon is the new face of a small liberal party in Morocco's legislative elections.

She is the first woman from the Jewish faith to head its national women's list for the parliamentary elections, in a first for this overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim North African country.

Meanwhile, Bassima Hakkawi urges her supporters to vote for her party, the Muslim-rooted PJD. She says in Islam she found the best remedies to the problems her country faces.

Together they represent just two of the women hoping to win seats in the country's new parliament.

All eyes on journalist's trial

 
The case of Reda Benchemsi, a Moroccan journalist, is bringing the issue of media freedom in Morocco into full view, at the very height of the election campaign.

The editor of two independent newspapers, Benchemsi wrote an article on the king's eight-year legacy, and ended up asking the monarch: "brother where are you taking us?"

The article was perceived as showing disrespect to the monarchy, and now he has to convince the court his words were in fact completely appropriate.

Slums breeding extremism

One of the biggest issues in Morocco is poverty and all of the country's political parties are promising to tackle the problem ahead of the elections.

Slums are a common sight in the cities of the kingdom and some have become a breeding ground for extremism.

A series of co-ordianted suicide bombings in Casablanca left 33 people dead in May 2003. Residents of the city have since learned to live with insecurity.

Meeting Meknes' Muslim mayor

Opinion polls in Morocco put the Muslim-rooted PJD party ahead of its three main rivals in the lead up to the elections.

The tourist city of Meknes is one of the party's strongholds and its mayor of five-years, a PJD-member, likes to tease his secular rivals by saying "for every bar you open, I will open 10 mosques."

This is a place where Islam and modernism co-exist. But more young women are wearing the headscarf, reversing a tendency by the previous generation to wear Western dress.

In My View: Dr Abdelhay Moudden

Dr Abdelhay Moudden, a professor of political science and cross-culture studies, explains the importance of these elections for both Morocco and the wider region.

Will turnout be affected by voter apathy or do these elections promise a real chance for constitutional reforms?

He takes us through the issues, and the kingdom's efforts to shed its repressive past.

Righteous Rule

Despite elections and the US label of Morocco being a 'moderate Islamic state', the country's monarchy continues to hold ultimate power.

King Mohammed VI, who sits above the party political fray, says he wants more democracy but has not said how it should be done.

And as Amir al Mouminine (Commander of the Faithful), he provides religious leadership that adds to his overall power.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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