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EU urges Morocco to swiftly implement reforms

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(BRUSSELS) - The European Union welcomed on Saturday the approval of a new constitution in Morocco curbing the king's powers and urged the government to switfly implement the reforms.

"We welcome the positive outcome of the referendum on the new Constitution in Morocco and commend the peaceful and democratic spirit surrounding the vote," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and neighbourhood policy commissioner Stefan Fuele said in a joint statement.

"The reforms proposed in it constitute a significant response to the legitimate aspirations of the Moroccan people and are consistent with Morocco's Advanced Status with the EU," the said.

"Now we encourage the swift and effective implementation of this reform agenda," the statement said.

Moroccan Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui announced early Saturday that more than 98 percent of voters backed the constitution in a referendum that took place on Friday.

Faced with demonstrations modelled on those that ousted long-serving leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, Mohammed VI announced the referendum last month to devolve some of his powers to the prime minister and parliament.

"Moroccan citizens should remain at the centre of this process and the inclusive dialogue with their representatives should continue and grow stronger," Ashton and Fuele said.

"The European Union is ready to fully support Morocco in this endeavour."

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