Thousands march in Moroccan cities

Sunday, February 20, 2011

RABAT - Thousands of people marched in Moroccan cities Sunday demanding King Mohammed VI give up some of his powers.

In Moroccan capital Rabat, police allowed protesters, raising slogans like “The people reject a constitution made for slaves”, to approach parliament, the BBC reported.

A separate protest is under way in the country’s biggest city, Casablanca, and another was planned in Marrakesh, the report said.

Sunday’s rallies in Morocco have been organised by groups including one calling itself the “February 20 Movement for Change”.

Over 23,000 people have extended their support to its Facebook site.

“This is a peaceful protest to push for constitutional reform, restore dignity and end graft and the plundering of public funds,” said Mustapha Muchtati of the Baraka (Enough) group.

Moroccan Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar had urged the people not to march, warning that any “slip may, in the space of few weeks, cost us what we have achieved over the last 10 years”.

Protests have spread across the region since popular movements in Tunisia and Egypt forced out their leaders.

Analysts say that unlike other countries in the Arab world that have seen protests, Morocco has a successful economy, an elected parliament and a reformist monarchy, making it less vulnerable to a major uprising than other countries.

“Most of what these people and organisations are calling for has been on the political scene for quite some time - political change, freedom, reform, change in the constitution,” political analyst Abdelhay Moudden told the BBC.

King Mohammed is a member of the Alaouite dynasty that has been ruling Morocco for some 350 years, claiming a direct line of descent from the Prophet Mohammad.

Filed under: Politics

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