Morocco profile - Leaders

King: King Mohammed VI

King Mohammed VI of Morocco
Image caption Despite reforms, the king still dominates political life

Groomed for "kingship", as his late father King Hassan II referred to his upbringing, Mohammed VI became monarch in 1999.

He initiated political and economic changes and an investigation into human rights abuses during his father's rule.

The king says the fight against poverty is a priority, earning him the name "guardian of the poor". Economic liberalisation has attracted foreign investment and officials point to better basic services in shanty towns and rural areas. But some non-government groups say little has changed, with poverty still widespread and unemployment remaining high.

A key reform has been the Mudawana, a law which grants more rights to women. The king has said it is in line with Koranic principles, but religious conservatives have opposed it.

Bomb attacks in Casablanca in 2003 prompted the enactment of new anti-terrorism laws and a reinvigorated campaign against extremists. But some rights groups say the measures have eroded human rights.

King Mohammed married computer engineer Salma Bennani in 2002. They have a son, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, born in 2003, and a daughter, Princess Lalla Khadija, born in 2007.

Under the constitution, the king can dissolve parliament and dismiss or appoint the prime minister. After protesters demanding political reform took to the streets in February 2011, King Mohammed announced a wide-ranging review of the constitution.

He scored a landslide victory in a July 2011 referendum on a reformed constitution which he proposed to placate "Arab Spring" protests. However, although the new constitution grants more powers to the prime minister and parliament, the king still retains veto power over most government decisions.

Prime minister: Abdelilah Benkirane

Image caption Mr Benkirane insists that his party will not seek to curtail civil liberties in Morocco

Abdelilah Benkirane's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) emerged as the biggest party in parliamentary elections in November 2011, and in accordance with Morocco's new constitution, introduced in July 2011, King Mohammed was obliged to choose a prime minister from the party that won the most seats.

Mr Benkirane leads a broad coalition, in which his party holds the top positions but governs in tandem with conservative monarchists, liberals, socialists and former communists. One of the coalition partners, the Istiqlal party, resigned in July 2013, prompting a political crisis. A new power-sharing deal was forged months later with the centre-right National Rally of Independents.

The PJD gained power for the first time in 2011 and is the first Islamist party to run Morocco, the Arab world's oldest monarchy.

Several cabinet posts, including that of religious affairs, have been directly appointed by the palace.

Morocco is beset by soaring unemployment and the rising prices of basic commodities, and the new prime minister promised that the government's focus would be on creating jobs and tackling corruption. Nonetheless, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Casablanca in a trade-union rally to protest at the government's lack of progress on these issues.

Mr Benkirane, who was elected head of the PJD in 2008, leads its more pro-monarchy faction and has stated his support for a strong king.

Born in Rabat, he trained as a teacher and went on to set up a private school. After an early flirtation with socialism, he joined an Islamic youth group in his early twenties. He is married and has six children.

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