Morocco: thousands march in Casablanca as protest movement is revived

Reviving a protest movement that had become moribund in recent months, some 10,000 Moroccans marched in Casablanca Sept. 25, calling for a boycott of the upcoming elections. The February 20 movement has been continuing to hold weekly Sunday marches in Casablanca, the country’s biggest city; after dwindling since the spring they have been growing again as the November parliamentary elections approach. Demonstrators who took to the streets in the sprawling low-income neighborhood of Sbata chanted slogans against government corruption, and the power of the king. “Head of the army, it’s too much—head of the religion, it’s too much,” was one popular slogan, referring to some of the many powers the king keeps under the newly amended constitution. (Miami Herald, Sept. 25; AP, Sept. 18)

Morocco’s opposition Unified Socialist Party formally announced Sept. 19 that it would boycott the Nov. 25 elections, which were called by the king in response to pro-democracy protests. Said Mehdi Lahlou, a member of the party’s leadership: “This decision is in line with our position on the undemocratic practices witnessed during the constitutional referendum, such as the utilization of mosques and brotherhoods close to the regime to promote the yes vote.”

Parliamentary elections were due to be held in 2012 but were moved forward following a July 1 referendum in which voters overwhelmingly approved a package of reforms limiting the powers of King Mohammed VI. (Ahram Online, Sept. 19)

See our last posts on Morocco, the Arab revolutions, and the struggle in the Maghreb.

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