Rabat - The government coalition has broken its silence on the growing tensions in Al Hoceima, stressing demonstrators' right to protest for 'legitimate' social demands.
Rabat – The government coalition has broken its silence on the growing tensions in Al Hoceima, stressing demonstrators’ right to protest for ‘legitimate’ social demands.
“The majority parties of the government have again stressed the right of protests to express legitimate social demands in accordance with legal procedures,” wrote the coalition in a communiqué issued Wednesday.
The statement came following a meeting held the same day by party leaders of the coalition government, their representatives, Head of Government Saad Eddine Othmani, and Minister of State in charge of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid.
“It is a duty of everyone to preserve this right from any abuse and to promote the approach of dialogue and take into account the aspirations of the citizens regarding freedom, dignity, democracy, and social justice,” said the parties.
The statement called on the government for “more positive reactions to the legitimate demands of the inhabitants of Al Hoceima and its region,” urging “all people to protect public and private property [and] respect the institutions to strengthen security and stability.”
The seven months of protests came following the October death of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger who was fatally crushed in a trash compactor while attempting to retrieve merchandise discarded by authorities.
The coalition has been criticized for its insufficient response to the tensions in Al Hoceima. After accusing the demonstrations of receiving foreign backing and “drifting towards separatism,” outraged protesters staged a large-scale march denying the charges and reiterating their demands for social and economic development.
Last week, a high ministerial delegation led by Minister of Interior Abdelouafi Laftit traveled to Al Hoceima to “speed up development programs.”
However, tensions have grown over the past few days following the police’s pursuit and arrest of leading activist Nasser Zefzafi.
Zefzafi was taking into custody on Monday after interrupting a Friday sermon he felt was denouncing the “Harak” movement, and was transferred to Casablanca for investigation. He has been charged with “obstructing the right of worship” and “undermining state security.”