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Morocco marks anniversary of 'Arab Spring' protest movement

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-02-20

At least a thousand people gathered in Morocco’s main cities of Casablanca and Rabat on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the country’s reform movement, which was inspired by Arab Spring movements in countries like Egypt and Tunisia.

AFP - Hundreds of demonstrators Sunday marked the first anniversary of a reform movement, born of last year's Arab Spring, amid calls for more democracy in the Moroccan kingdom.

In Casablanca, the country's second largest city, some 2,000 people gathered amid cries of "end corruption" and "freedom", while in the capital, Rabat, about 1,000 turned out to celebrate the so-called "February 20 movement", journalists said.

A security official spoke of about 1,000 demonstrators for the whole of the country, including 150 in Casablanca.

A counter-demonstration also took place in Rabat, near the parliament, with dozens of people carrying portraits of King Mohammed VI.

As Tunisia and Egypt last year ousted their longtime dictators through popular uprisings, King Mohammed nipped swelling protests in the bud by offering constitutional reform that curbed his near absolute powers.

The February 20 movement lost much of its support in December when the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won most parliamentary seats in November elections, broke with it.

The movement, made up of workers and students, wants a parliamentary monarchy similar to Spain's, and an end to corruption in the country. But it had been criticized for calling for a boycott of both the vote for the new constitution and the early general elections.

"There's no point in the government entering into talks with the M20 because it's not a party with policy-making organs. It's a protest movement which wants social justice in a country where social inequalities are rampant," according to Omar Balafrej, the president of the Abderrahim Bouabid foundation, a pro-democracy think tank.

Date created : 2012-02-20

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