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Moroccans march against Islamist-led government

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-05-27

Anti-government protesters in Morocco staged a mass rally in Casablanca on Sunday, the biggest demonstration since an Islamist-led government took office in January. The government is accused of failing to act on its promise of social justice.

AFP - Tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets of Casablanca on Sunday in the largest opposition protest since an Islamist-led government took office in January.

The protest was organised by trade unions which accuse Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane of failing to deliver on the pledges of social justice that brought his party to power in the wake of the Arab Spring.

"There are more than 50,000 people who are demonstrating to call on the government to start a genuine dialogue addressing our country's social ills," opposition Socialist MP Hassan Tariq said.

Police sources estimated the crowd at around half that figure.

"The trade unions are united and the message to the Benkirane government is clear: he needs to change his strategy," Tariq told AFP as the crowd marched through the heart of the country's economic capital.

Hundreds of youths from the February 20 Movement -- known as M20 -- also turned out in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city.

Their movement was born of the wave of protests which took hold in the kingdom last year after pro-democracy revolts in Tunisia and Egypt toppled long-standing regimes.

King Mohammed VI nipped the protest movement in the bud by introducing significant reforms to curb his near-absolute powers.

The ensuing November 2011 election saw the Justice and Development Party -- a moderate Islamist party -- win the most seats and head a coalition government.

It had pledged to address the protest movement's grievances and fight for more social justice in a country mired by high unemployment and illiteracy rates.

But less than six months after it was sworn in, Benkirane was facing renewed discontent from protesters who see no change.

"Benkirane and Fouad Ali El Himma are two sides of the same coin," went one slogan chanted in the streets of Casablanca, referring to the king's closest advisor.

Date created : 2012-05-27

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