September 29, 2019 / 7:08 PM / 17 days ago

Moroccan king ill, forced to miss Chirac funeral service

FILE PHOTO - Morocco's King Mohammed VI and his son Crown Prince Moulay Hassan arrive at the Elysee Palace as part of the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France, November 11, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

RABAT (Reuters) - Doctors have advised Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to rest for several days to recover from a viral lung infection that forced him to miss a remembrance ceremony in Paris for France’s late president Jacques Chirac, the palace said on Sunday.

In a rare statement on the health of the 56-year-old monarch, who last year underwent heart surgery, the palace said Mohammed had been unable to attend the commemoration event for Chirac, who died last week aged 86.

The palace noted in its statement the “strong ties” between the Chirac family and the ruling dynasty in Morocco, a former French protectorate.

Chirac served as French president from 1995 to 2005. His funeral will take place on Monday and Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan will represent Morocco at the event.

King Mohammed VI has headed the Muslim world’s longest-serving dynasty since 1999 when his father Hassan II died of a heart attack.

As head of state, Mohammed represents the supreme authority in Morocco. He devolved some powers to an elected government in reforms after the “Arab Spring” protests, but he is able to sack ministers and did so after protests in the Rif region.

In July he urged the government to carry out a reshuffle of cabinet posts and on September 21 he met Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani of the Islamist Justice and Development Party, part of the ruling coalition, to discuss it.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Angus McDowall and Gareth Jones

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