November 24, 2011 / 4:39 PM / 7 years ago

Timeline: Morocco's path toward reform under King Mohammed

(Reuters) - Morocco holds parliamentary elections on Friday.

Here is a timeline on Morocco since King Mohammed came to the throne:

July 23, 1999 - King Hassan II dies from a heart attack and his son Mohammed VI ascends the throne.

November 30, 2001 - The king leads Friday prayers in Smara, the spiritual capital of Western Sahara, to help cement ties to the disputed desert territory. Morocco has controlled the former Spanish colony since 1976 despite opposition from the Algerian-backed pro-independence Polisario Front.

May 16, 2003 - Suicide bombers set off at least five blasts in Casablanca. Forty-five people are killed including 13 of the bombers and about 60 are wounded.

October 2003 - King Mohammed says he will reform women’s rights, raising the minimum age to marry to 18 from 15, giving women property rights in marriage and allowing them to divorce their husbands.

October 2005 - Hundreds of migrants attempt to surge across razor-wire fences around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the only European Union territories in mainland Africa. At least 11 migrants die trying to scale the fences.

December 16, 2005 - The Arab world’s first truth commission says about 592 Moroccans were killed at the hands of the government between the 1960s and 1990s, a period known as “the years of lead.” Victims and their families are compensated but none of the killers is named or punished.

September 7, 2007 - In parliamentary elections, Abbas El Fassi’s conservative Istiqlal party wins the most seats and he is named prime minister on September 19, replacing Driss Jettou.

November 6 - King Mohammed criticizes Spanish King Juan Carlos’s visit to the disputed enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

June 13, 2009 - A new Moroccan political party grouping King Mohammed’s staunchest supporters wins most seats in local elections after pushing opposition Islamists to the sidelines.

November 6, 2009 - King Mohammed calls for action against traitors who threaten the country’s “territorial integrity,” a direct warning to Western Sahara independence campaigners in a speech marking 34 years since Morocco took control of the territory.

January 3, 2010 - The King announces a new consultative body to study a shift toward more regional government, including for the disputed Western Sahara, and help modernize state institutions.

February 20, 2011 - Marches calling for King Mohammed to give up some of his powers and dismiss the government draw thousands in more than 50 cities and towns, the biggest anti-establishment protests the country had witnessed in decades.

March 9 - King Mohammed announces he will overhaul the constitution and set up a hand-picked committee to draft changes by June, which include a stronger parliament, a bigger role for local officials and an independent judiciary.

April 28 - Seventeen people, including eight French nationals, are killed when a blast rips through the second storey of a cafe overlooking Marrakesh’s Jamaa el-Fnaa square.

May 22 - Police use truncheons to break up anti-government protests in several cities, apparently signaling a tougher government line against the February 20 Movement.

June 17 - King Mohammed promises a new democratic constitution devolving some of his powers to parliament and the government. He sets a referendum for just two weeks later, and says he will be voting in favor.

July 1 - Mohammed wins a landslide victory in a referendum over constitutional reforms which will grant the government executive powers, but retain the king as head of the army, religious authorities and the judiciary.

August 16 - Morocco says it will hold a parliamentary election on November 25, ten months ahead of schedule.

October 23 - Thousands demonstrate in many cities calling for a boycott of early parliamentary polls whose outcome will be key to the future of reforms crafted by the royal palace.

— The protests are the latest in a series of regular peaceful demonstrations by the February 20 Movement.

November 25 - Parliamentary elections.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/)

Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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