By Safaa Kasraoui
By Safaa Kasraoui
Rabat – Ilyas El Omari, president of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, has described the ongoing protests in the Rif region as “legitimate,” and is calling for officials to be held accountable for the delay in the execution of projects launched by King Mohammed VI for the area.
“Minister of Justice should order the Public Prosecution to listen to all and hold them accountable, including myself, for failing to fulfill Al Hociema’s projects signed in front of the king,” he was quoted by Hespress as saying.
He called for accountability on the part of all who have neglected the rights and demands of Al Hociema protesters and added that he is ready to be held accountable if necessary.
El Omari said that, as the head of the region, “these protests have not taken him by surprise, but have made him more familiar with the province of Al Hoceima, and the types of solutions needed to end the current crisis.”
According to the same source, El Omari said that Knowing things begins with telling the truth publicly. He added that Al Hoceima Province has a specificity and historical legacy as well as an accumulation of social issues which can not be wiped out.
“As there have been shortcomings accumulated over 60 years, we must start working on the accumulation of achievements.”
Over the past few weeks, Al Hoceima protesters have been urging the government to respond to a set of demands including a cancer hospital, a university and the end of what they call the “militarization of the region,” referring to the 1958 decree declaring Rif a military region.
Mustapha El Khalfi, Delegate Minister to the Head of Government for Relations with Parliament and Civil Society, said in May that the insistence on promoting Al Hoceima is a military zone does not rest on a legal basis.
He explained that the 1958 decree was superseded by another one in 1959 on the administrative division of Morocco into 19 provinces, including Al Hoceima.
El Omari said, however, that the government should come out with an official communique and not just “inconsistent and unconvincing statements.”
He said that the truth should be revealed on the militarization controversy, adding that people have a right to know whether or not the decree still exists.
“It was necessary for the Head of the Government (Saad Eddine El Othmani) to tell the truth to protesters,” he added.
The Al Hoceima native said that ground for the cancer hospital construction was broken in 2003 by King Mohammed VI himself and was opened in 2008, despite a lack of equipments. He added that the region has intervened and paid for the necessary equipments, which has not yet found its way to the hospital.
El Omari also talked about the Menarat Al-Mutawasat project, which was launched by king Mohammed Vi in 2015.
El Omari has provided the project with the sums set aside for it, saying that MAD 6 billion have been offered for the project. “Al Hociema had been expecting to benefit from more than MAD 300 billion by 2016.”
El Omari also mentioned that different ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Equipment and Transport, pledged huge sums of money to accelerate the execution of this project.
“If these ministries contributed with the promised billions and launched projects in 2015, these protesters will then find job opportunities and Mouhcine Fikri could have found a job with more dignity.”
Mouhcine Fikri was the local fishmonger whose death in October 2016, while attempting to retrieve his confiscated merchandize from a garbage truck, triggered a massive wave of protests in the Rif region and all of Morocco.
Demonstrations in the region have continued since then.