[QODLink]
Africa
Anti-government protesters rally in Morocco
Demonstrators accuse ruling party of not fulfilling its pledges to address social grievances and fight corruption.
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2012 13:12
Part of the protests against the high cost of living and other causes of social discontent in the capital Rabat [AFP]

Hundreds of activists have rallied in Morocco's main cities to protest against corruption, the high cost of living and other causes of discontent.

Rights groups, trade unionists and the February 20 protest movement had called the demonstrations, amid frustration at the perceived failure of the Islamist-led government to make good on its electoral promises.

In Casablanca, Morocco's largest city, nearly 1,000 people gathered, chanting anti-corruption slogans, denouncing the sharp rise in prices, and calling for the release of jailed activists, a witness said. The protest ended without incident at midnight, an activist reported on social media.

Around 300 people gathered near the main boulevard in Rabat, the capital, chanting slogans criticising Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, and waving anti-government banners, AFP correspondents reported.

"Free the activists... Stop the repression of the people!" one banner read.

Members of the pro-reform February 20 movement have been jailed in recent months for participating in unauthorised protests.

A protest of around 100 people in Meknès ended in violence when protesters were beaten by police, according to an activist.

Other demonstrations, of up to 200 people, were also reported in the central city of Marrakesh, Tangier, the port city on Morocco's north coast, Tetouan and El Jadida, witnesses said.

Surge in cost of living

Activists blame the ruling PJD party for a surge in fuel prices - petrol jumped by 20 per cent in June when the government moved to cut its unaffordable subsidies bill - that has driven up the cost of food and other basic goods.

They also accuse the moderate Islamist party, whose leader Benkirane was appointed prime minister in January, of not fulfilling its campaign pledges to address social grievances and fight corruption.

But the February 20 movement, formed last year as Arab Spring uprisings swept other countries in the region, has lost much of its support since the PJD won most parliamentary seats in November elections and broke with it.

Saturday's demonstrations failed to attract the numbers witnessed in May, when tens of thousands took to the streets of Casablanca to complain of unemployment and other social woes.

According to a recent report published by the World Bank, around 30 per cent of young Moroccans between 15 and 29 - who account for 44 per cent of the working age population - are unemployed.

381

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
join our mailing list