Voters in Morocco approved the constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed in a referendum on Friday 1 July.

The king acted in the wake of the Arab uprisings which removed from power Tunisia’s former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and ended the 30-year reign of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.

Official figures show that the 98.5 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the move, with 70 per cent of the electorate participating in the referendum.

Under the new constitutional amendments, the king has to select a prime minister from the biggest party in parliament. The prime minister will preside over the Government Council, which proposes policies to the cabinet and vested with the power to dissolve the lower house as the head of government.

Women’s rights will be bolstered and Berber is to become an official language next to Arabic.

King Mohammed remains at the head of the military and the judiciary and of the Islamic faith.

While the country’s main political parties, unions, civic groups, religious leaders and media had urged Moroccans to vote in favour of the amendments, critics say that the monarchy has a long history of superficial reform, and pointed out that the bulk of power remains in the hands of the king.