Rabat – The governmental coalition led by Justice and Development Party (PJD) have warned protests in the Rif region against drifting towards separatism.
Leading members of the coalition parties, including Minister of the Interior Abdelouafi Laftit, met on Sunday to discuss the situation in the city of Al Hoceima and its surrounding areas.
Saad Eddine El Othmani, the PJD National Council President and Head of Government, said at the meeting that “protests should be dealt with according to the law. But at the same time, demonstrations should avoid damaging private or public property or fueling separatist sentiments.”
He added that protests should be cautious not to “establish links with foreign agendas” or receive aid from outside sources.
El Othmani went on to say the coalition agreed on the necessity of “meeting the demands of the local population,” not just in Al Hoceima, but in all regions whose inhabitants feel marginalized.
Rachid Talbi Alami, member of the Political Bureau of the National Rally of Independents (RNI), said, “the situation in Al Hoceima witnessed natural developments at the beginning, but then there were deviations led by a group of ‘outside agitators’, with whom dialogue has failed.”
For his part, the Constitutional Union party leader, Mohamed Sajid, described the protests as “an expression of legitimate demands” before they turned into actions threatening Morocco’s territorial integrity.
Sajid called for an application of the law against “agitators” among Al Hoceima activists.
Khalid Naciri, member of the Political Bureau of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), used a stronger language to describe the situation in Al Hoceima.
Naciri said that the Minister of Interior gave a report proving protests “crossed the red lines”, adding that discussions of “social demands” were merely a “hoax” used by agitators.
The situation in Al Hoceima and neighboring areas has been tense since the October 2016 death of Mohcine Fikri, the fish vendor crushed by a compactor as he was trying to save his confiscated merchandise out of a garbage truck.
The government has accused protests of flirting with separatism, which demonstrators have denied, maintaining that their demands are purely social.