Saturday, July 24, 1999 Published at 08:09 GMT 09:09 UK
Mohammed VI takes Moroccan throne
Ministers have been swearing allegiance to the new king
A new king has been enthroned in Morocco following the death of King Hassan II after a rule of almost 40 years.
As cabinet ministers lined up to pay homage to King Mohammed by kissing his hand, hundreds of ordinary people gathered at the palace gates to express their allegiance. Many were weeping.
The new king has already appealed to Moroccans to remain loyal to their monarchy - one of the oldest in the world.
A 40-day period of national mourning has been declared across the country.
Police ordered the shutters to be closed on shops and buildings in Rabat, leading to reports of panic buying.
The new king appeared on television to announce the death.
"My father, His Majesty King Hassan, may God bless his soul, died of a heart attack at 1630 (GMT) due to a complication that could not be treated," he said.
In a brief message to the Moroccan people, King Mohammed, with his younger brother Prince Moulay Rachid at his side, called for "calm and patience".
Foreign leaders including United States President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary are expected to attend.
PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak have reportedly postponed a key meeting scheduled for Saturday so that they too can attend the funeral.
Palestinian officials are quoted as saying the confidence-building meeting will now take place on Tuesday.
At the time of his death, King Hassan was the Arab world's longest-reigning monarch. He had been on the throne since 1961.
He had appeared tired after he returned from a recent visit to France.
He was taken to hospital four years ago in the United States suffering from pneumonia, and had respiratory complaints ever since.
Human rights critics
King Hassan was a leading political figure in North Africa and a strong Arab nationalist.
But his human rights record was heavily criticised internationally. At home, he often faced criticism for his repressive measures against dissidents.
The BBC's Nick Pelham in Rabat says Morocco remains a deeply unequal society and King Hassan's legacy is a state which in terms of development has changed only in part since independence from France.
The average Moroccan is illiterate and lives in accommodation without running water or electricity.