By Bryn Miller
By Bryn Miller
Rabat – On Tuesday, protesters in Tamassint gathered in front of the Imrabten Group’s headquarters to demand better medical facilities and infrastructure. The protests were sparked by the death of a local woman last week after an ambulance failed to transport her to the hospital.
In Tamassint, a town in the Imrabten region of the northern al-Hoceima province, the government-run Imrabten Group works alongside local medical facilities to supply ambulances and medical care. Protesters say that Idriss Berhouta called the Imrabten Group to request an ambulance to take his wife to the Mohamed V Hospital in al-Hoceima. They hold that Imrabten denied the woman, who was from a low socio-economic class, access to an ambulance; she died shortly after.
Imrabten president Noureddine Wlad Omar’s narrative differs. The president said he received a request to transport someone’s sister to the hospital and told them to directly contact the Tamassint medical group. After some confusion, the president says the man “responded confirming that he had gotten an ambulance himself.” He noted that, according to the framework cooperation agreement between his group and Tamassint, Imrabten is only supposed to supply the driver, gas, and spare parts for the ambulance. Wlad Omar, a member of the PAM (Party of Authenticity and Modernity), also claimed that his political opponents were manipulating the narrative to damage PAM’s prospects in the upcoming election season.
On Tuesday, the Temporary Committee to Follow up on Local Affairs in Temassint organized a protest. The Anwal Press reported that police attempted to stop the demonstration from occurring, but residents took to the streets regardless to demand that Would-Omar be held accountable for the death of the woman. They also denounced the poor medical facilities, infrastructure, and general governmental neglect of the region.
Abdellatif Algelbzori, the al-Hoceima Secretary Regional of PAM, announced before the protests began that Imrabten would open a full investigation regarding Wlad Omar’s involvement in the woman’s death.
These protests are the latest manifestations of decades-old resentment and neglect in northern Morocco. After Moroccan independence, the Rif people of the North rose up in 1958. The government cracked down harshly, sending 20,000 troops led by the future King Hassan II to suppress the rebellion. Approximately 10,000 tribesmen were killed. The King harbored animosity towards the region throughout his rule and excluded Rif from development initiatives. Although King Mohamed VI has increased spending in the region to improve infrastructure and quality of life, much work still remains to provide the people of Rif with adequate infrastructure and medical facilities.
Photos courtesy: Anwal Press