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Thousands of protesters demand “A New Morocco”

April 25, 2011 Comments off

newsdaily

CASABLANCA, Morocco, Apr. 24, 2011 (Reuters) — Thousands took to the streets of Morocco on Sunday in peaceful demonstrations to demand sweeping reforms and an end to political detention, the third day of mass protests since they began in February.

People gather for a protest in Casablanca April 24, 2011. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

Desperate to avoid the turmoil that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, authorities have already announced some changes to placate demands that King Mohammed cede more powers and limit the monarchy’s extensive business influence.

Some 10,000 people joined the protest in Casablanca, the largest city in one of the West’s staunchest Arab allies. Marchers in the capital Rabat also denounced corruption and torture as well as unemployment, very high among youths.

Policing has been low-key for protests by the February 20 Movement, named after the date of its first march, particularly compared to the turmoil elsewhere in North Africa.

“This is more about the young ones than it is about us,” said Redouane Mellouk, who had brought his 8 year-old son Mohamed Amine, carrying a placard demanding “A New Morocco.”

“Our parents could not talk to us about political issues. They were too afraid. This must change,” said Mellouk.

Although levels of popular anger have risen, ratings agencies assess Morocco as the country in the region least likely to become embroiled in the type of unrest that toppled Tunisian and Egyptian regimes and led to the conflict in Libya.

In Rabat, several thousand people marched through poor districts with high levels of unemployment and away from the center, where the previous monthly demonstrations have been held. There was no sign of trouble.

DISAFFECTED YOUTH

A 74 year-old man in Casablanca who gave his name only as Ahmed said Morocco’s youths were right to protest. Read more…