Mohammed VI of Morocco
Mohammed VI (Arabic: محمد السادس; born 21 August 1963) is the King of Morocco. He belongs to the Alaouite dynasty and ascended to the throne on 23 July 1999 upon the death of his father, King Hassan II.
|King of Morocco|
|Reign||23 July 1999 – present|
|Heir apparent||Moulay Hassan|
|Born||21 August 1963|
|Arabic||الملك محمد السادس|
|Father||Hassan II of Morocco|
|Mother||Lalla Latifa Hammou|
Upon ascending to the throne, the king initially introduced a number of reforms, and changed the family code Mudawana which granted women more power. Leaked diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks have led to allegations of corruption in the court of King Mohammed VI, implicating the king and his closest advisors. Widespread disturbances in 2011, a Moroccan element of the Arab Spring, protested against corruption and urged the need for political reform. In response, King Mohammed VI promulgated a program of reforms and introduced a new constitution. These reforms were passed by a public referendum on 1 July 2011.
The king has vast business holdings across several economic sectors in Morocco. His net worth has been estimated at between US$2.1 billion and over US$5 billion, and, according to the American business magazine Forbes, he was the richest king in Africa in 2014, and the 5th richest king in the world.
Early life and educationEdit
Mohammed VI was the second child and oldest son of Hassan II and his secondary wife, Lalla Latifa Hammou. On the day of his birth, Mohammed was appointed Heir Apparent and Crown Prince. His father was keen on giving him a religious and political education from an early age; at the age of four, he started attending the Quranic school at the Royal Palace.
Mohammed VI completed his first primary and secondary studies at Collège Royal and attained his Baccalaureate in 1981, before gaining a bachelor's degree in law at the Mohammed V University at Agdal in 1985. His research paper dealt with "the Arab-African Union and the Strategy of the Kingdom of Morocco in matters of International Relations". He has also frequented the Imperial College and University of Rabat. He was furthermore appointed president of the Pan Arab Games, and was commissioned a Colonel Major of the Royal Moroccan Army on 26 November 1985. He served as the Coordinator of the Offices and Services of the Royal Armed Forces until 1994.
In 1987, Mohammed VI obtained his first Certificat d'Études Supérieures (CES) in political sciences, and in July 1988 he obtained a Diplôme d'Études Approfondies (DEA) in public law. In November 1988, he trained in Brussels with Jacques Delors, then-President of the European Commission.
Mohammed VI obtained his PhD in law with distinction on 29 October 1993 from the French University of Nice Sophia Antipolis for his thesis on "EEC-Maghreb Relations". On 12 July 1994, he was promoted to the military rank of Major General, and that same year he became president of the High Council of Culture and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Moroccan Army.
The New York Times reported that prior to ascending to the throne, Mohammed VI "gained a reputation as a playboy during the years he spent waiting in the wings, showing a fondness for fast cars and nightclubs."
King of MoroccoEdit
Criticism of the king's spendingEdit
Morocco ranks 121st in the United Nations’ human development index. Ten per cent of the population live in absolute poverty. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mohammed VI was reported to have purchased an €80 million mansion in Paris, close to the Eiffel Tower, from the Saudi Royal family.
Allegations of corruptionEdit
Royal involvement in business is a major topic in Morocco, but public discussion of it is sensitive. The US embassy in Rabat reported to Washington in a leaked cable that "corruption is prevalent at all levels of Moroccan society". Corruption allegedly reaches the highest levels in Morocco, where the business interests of Mohammed VI and some of his advisors influence "every large housing project," according to WikiLeaks documents published in December 2010 and quoted in The Guardian newspaper. The documents released by the whistleblower website also quote the case of a businessman working for a US consortium, whose plans in Morocco were paralysed for months after he refused to join forces with a company linked with the royal palace. Decisions on big investments in the kingdom were taken by only three people, the documents quote a company executive linked to the royal family as saying. The three are the king, his secretary Mounir Majidi, and the monarch's close friend, adviser and former classmate Fouad Ali Himma, the executive said at a meeting with potential investors in a Gulf country. This corruption especially affects the housing sector, the WikiLeaks documents show.
Social reforms and liberalizationEdit
Shortly after he ascended to the throne, Mohammed VI addressed his nation via television, promising to take on poverty and corruption, while creating jobs and improving Morocco's human rights record. His reformist rhetoric was opposed by Islamist conservatives, and some of his reforms angered fundamentalists. In February 2004, he enacted a new family code, or Mudawana, which granted women more power.
In December 2020, Mohammed VI agreed to normalize relations with Israel on the condition that the United States will recognize Western Sahara as under Moroccan sovereignty. The deal will include direct flights between the two nations.
Mohammed VI also created the so-called Instance Equité et Réconciliation (IER), which was tasked with researching human rights violations under Hassan II. This move was welcomed by many as promoting democracy, but was also criticized because reports of human rights violations could not name the perpetrators. According to human rights organisations, widespread abuses still exist in Morocco. The 2011 Moroccan protests were motivated by corruption and general political discontentment, as well as by the hardships of the global economic crisis.
In a speech delivered on 9 March 2011, he said that parliament would receive "new powers that enable it to discharge its representative, legislative, and regulatory mission". In addition, the powers of the judiciary were granted greater independence from the king, who announced that he was impaneling a committee of legal scholars to produce a draft constitution by June 2011. On 1 July, voters approved a set of political reforms proposed by Mohammed VI.
The reforms consisted of the following:
- The Berber language is an official national language, along with standard Arabic.
- The state preserves and protects the Hassānīya language and all the linguistic components of the Moroccan culture as a heritage of the nation.
- Mohammed VI now has the obligation to appoint the prime minister from the party that wins the most seats in the parliamentary elections, but it can be any member of the winning party and not necessarily the party's leader. Previously, the king could nominate anybody he wanted for this position regardless of the election results. That was usually the case when no party had a big advantage over the other parties, in terms of the number of seats in the parliament.
- The king is no longer "sacred or holy" but the "integrity of his person" is "inviolable".
- High administrative and diplomatic posts (including ambassadors, CEOs of state-owned companies, provincial and regional governors), are now appointed by the prime minister and the ministerial council which is presided by the king; previously the latter exclusively held this power.
- The prime minister is the head of government and president of the council of government, he has the power to dissolve the parliament.
- The prime minister will preside over the Council of Government, which prepares the general policy of the state. Previously the king held this position.
- The parliament has the power of granting amnesty. Previously this was exclusively held by the king.
- The judiciary system is independent from the legislative and executive branches, the king guarantees this independence.
- Women are guaranteed "civic and social" equality with men. Previously, only "political equality" was guaranteed, though the 1996 constitution grants all citizens equality in terms of rights before the law.
- The king retains complete control over the armed forces and the judiciary as well as matters pertaining to religion and foreign policy; the king also retains the authority to appoint and dismiss prime ministers.
- All citizens have the freedom of thought, ideas, artistic expression and creation. Previously only free speech and the freedom of circulation and association were guaranteed. However, criticizing or directly opposing the king is still punishable with prison.
20 February MovementEdit
The 20 February movement called for and resulted in partial reforms.
Royal pardon scandalsEdit
Protests broke out in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, on 2 August 2013, after Mohammed pardoned 48 jailed Spaniards, including a pedophile who had been serving a 30-year sentence for raping 11 children aged between 4 and 15.
It was also revealed that amongst the pardoned was a drug trafficking suspect, who was released before standing trial. The detainee, Antonio Garcia, a recidivist drug trafficker, had been arrested in possession of 9 tons of Hashish in Tangier and was sentenced to 10 years. He had resisted arrest using a firearm. Some media claimed that his release embarrassed Spain.
Under his reign, Morocco increasingly prioritized African relations in its foreign policy, rejoining the African Union (AU) in 2017, while diversifying trade links and foreign investments by partnering with China and Russia.
Mohammed congratulated Naftali Bennett on his election as Israeli prime minister. Israel and Morocco restored diplomatic relations on December 10, 2020, as part of the Israel–Morocco normalization agreement involving the United States, which at the same time recognized Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Business and wealthEdit
Mohammed is Morocco's leading businessman and banker. In 2015, he was estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth US$5.7bn although in 2019 Business Insider quoted a figure of just US$2.1 billion. The Moroccan Royal Family, meanwhile, has one of the largest fortunes in the world. Together, they hold the majority stakes in the Société Nationale d'Investissement (SNI), which was originally state-owned but was merged in 2013 with Omnium Nord Africain (ONA Group), to form a single holding company that was taken off the Casablanca Stock Exchange—resulting in the scrapping of an equivalent of 50 billion Dirhams Marketcap (~US$6 billion). SNI has a diverse portfolio consisting of many important businesses in Morocco and operating in various sectors such as; Attijariwafa Bank (banking), Managem (mining), Onapar, SOMED (tourism/real-estate and exclusive distributor of Maserati), Wafa Assurance (insurance), Marjane (hypermarket chain), Wana-Inwi (telecommunications), SONASID (Siderurgy), Lafarge Maroc (Sopriam (exclusive distributor of Peugeot-Citroën in Morocco), Renault Maroc (exclusive distributor of Renault in Morocco) and Nareva (energy). SNI also owns many food-processing companies and is currently in the process of disengaging from this sector. Between mid-2012 and 2013 SNI sold; Lessieur, Centrale Laitière, Bimo and Cosumar to foreign groups for a total amount of ~$1.37 billion (11.4 billion Dirhams including 9.7 billion in 2013 and 1.7 in 2012).
Mohammed is also a leading agricultural producer and land owner in Morocco, where agriculture is exempted from taxes. His holding company "Siger" has shares in the large agricultural group "Les domaines agricoles" (originally called "Les domaines royaux", now commonly known as "Les domaines"), which was founded by Hassan II. In 2008, Telquel estimated that "Les domaines" had a revenue of $157 million (1.5 billion Dirhams), with 170,000 tons of citrus exported in that year. According to the same magazine, the company officially owns 12,000 hectares of agricultural lands. "Chergui", a manufacturer of dairy products, is the most recognizable brand of the group. Between 1994 and 2004, the group has been managed by Mohammed VI's brother-in-law Khalid Benharbit, the husband of Princess Lalla Hasna. "Les domaines" also owns the "Royal Golf de Marrakech", which originally belonged to Thami El Glaoui.
His palace's daily operating budget is reported by Forbes to be $960,000—which is paid by the Moroccan state as part of a 2.576 billion Dirhams/year budget as of 2014—with much of it accounted for by the expense of personnel, clothes, and car repairs.
Mohammed has one brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, and three sisters: Princess Lalla Meryem, Princess Lalla Asma, and Princess Lalla Hasna. The New York Times noted "conflicting reports about whether the new monarch had been married on Friday night, within hours of his father's death [in 1999]... to heed a Moroccan tradition that a King be married before he ascends the throne." A palace official subsequently denied that a marriage had taken place.
On 21 March 2002, Mohammed married Salma Bennani (now H.R.H. Princess Lalla Salma) in Rabat. Bennani was granted the personal title of Princess with the title of Her Royal Highness on her marriage. They have two children: Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, who was born on 8 May 2003, and Princess Lalla Khadija, who was born on 28 February 2007.
|Name||Date of birth||Place of birth||Age|
|Crown Prince Moulay Hassan||8 May 2003||Royal Palace, Rabat, Morocco||18|
|Princess Lalla Khadija||28 February 2007||Royal Palace, Rabat, Morocco||14|
|Royal styles of|
King Mohammed VI of Morocco
|Reference style||His Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
- Grand Master of the Order of Muhammad, (23 July 1999)
- Grand Master of the Order of the Throne, (23 July 1999)
- Grand Master of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, (23 July 1999)
- Grand Master of the Order of the Independence Combat, (23 July 1999)
- Grand Master of the Order of Fidelity, (23 July 1999)
- Grand Master of the Order of Military Merit, (23 July 1999)
Mohammed has received numerous honours and decorations from various countries, some of which are listed below.
- Grand Officer of the Order of the Equatorial Star of Gabon (7 July 1977)
- Collar of the Order of Civil Merit of Spain (2 June 1979)
- Honorary Knight of the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (27 October 1980)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III of Spain (23 June 1986)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Republic of Tunisia (August 1987)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic of Italy (18 March 1997)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Aviz of Portugal (13 August 1998)
- Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour of France (19 March 2000)
- Collar of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali of Jordan (1 March 2000)
- Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic of Italy (11 April 2000)
- Grand Cordon of the National Order of Merit of Mauritania (26 April 2000)
- Grand Collar of the Order of the Seventh of November of Tunisia (31 May 2014, previously Grand Cross on 24 May 2000)
- Grand Cordon of the National Order of Mali of Mali with Collar (14 June 2000)
- Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic of Spain (16 September 2000)
- Wissam of the Order of the Umayyads of Syria (9 April 2001)
- Wissam of the Order of Merit of Lebanon Special Class (13 June 2001)
- First Class Medal of the Order of Abu Bakar Siddiq of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (29 June 2001)
- Grand Collar of the Order of al-Khalifa of Bahrain (28 July 2001)
- Silver Star of United States (21 January 2002)
- Collar of the Order of Mubarak the Great of Kuwait (22 October 2002)
- Cordon of the Order of the Independence of Qatar (25 October 2002)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Nile of Egypt (28 October 2002)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Pakistan First Class (Nishan-e-Pakistan) of Pakistan (19 July 2003)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Valour of Cameroon (17 June 2004)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Equatorial Star of Gabon (21 June 2004)
- Grand Cross of the National Order of the Niger of the Niger (24 June 2004)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold of Belgium (5 October 2004)
- Collar of the Order of the Southern Cross of Brazil (26 November 2004)
- Medal of Honour of the Congress of Peru (1 December 2004)
- Collar of the Order of Bernardo O'Higgins of Chile (3 December 2004)
- Grand Collar of the Order of the Liberator General San Martin of Argentina (7 December 2004)
- Collar of the Order of Charles III of Spain (14 January 2005)
- Grand Collar of the Order of the Aztec Eagle of Mexico (11 February 2005)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Burkinabé of Burkina Faso (1 March 2005)
- Supreme Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum of Japan (28 November 2005)
- Grand Commander of the Order of the Republic of the Gambia (20 February 2006)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Congo of the Republic of Congo (22 February 2006)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the National Hero of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Congo-Kinshasa (28 February 2006)
- Commander Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of the Three Stars of Latvia (14 May 2007)
- Collar of the Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia (18 May 2007)
- Grand Collar of the Order of Independence of Equatorial Guinea (17 April 2009)
- Collar of the Order of the Republic of Tunisia (31 May 2014)
- Grand Cross of the National Order of the Ivory Coast (2015)
- Collar of the Order of Zayed (4 May 2015)
- Grand Cross of the National Order of Madagascar (2016)
- Grand Collar of the Military Order of Saint James of the Sword of Portugal (28 June 2016)
- Companion of the Order of the Star of Ghana (17 February 2017)
- Grand Cross of the Order of La Pléiade (24 May 2017)
- Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit of the United States (16 January 2021)
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