The current king, Mohammed VI, came to power in 1999 and is the third monarch to rule Morocco since it gained its independence from France in 1956. King Mohammed VI instituted a number of liberalising reforms when he succeeded his father, King Hassan II, who ruled from 1961. He put in place further reforms in 2011 against a backdrop of regional unrest and domestic political protest. The country has seen substantial socio-economic changes during the current king’s reign, including many notable improvements in socio-economic indicators, though challenges remain.
Outside of domestic politics, major events in the early years of the king’s reign included the signature of an association agreement with the EU in 2000, which saw the establishment of a common free trade area for manufactured goods. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, the kingdom took a supportive stance in the so-called War on Terror, and was awarded major non-NATO ally status in 2004. The king has been the public face of the country’s recent attempts to strengthen its ties with Africa, leading a series of trips to sub-Saharan states largely in order to sign economic and investment agreements.