Rabat - House of Councilors member Aziz Benazouz has claimed the Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani is inflicting a “collective punishment” on the Rif population for voting for the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) instead of El Othmani's Justice and Development Party (PJD).
Rabat – House of Councilors member Aziz Benazouz has claimed the Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani is inflicting a “collective punishment” on the Rif population for voting for the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) instead of El Othmani’s Justice and Development Party (PJD).
“For you, either Moroccans vote for you or they will be punished,” said Benazouz during a statement in the upper house of Parliament on Wednesday.
Protests in Rif have now reached their seventh month. What started as a reaction to the death of Al Hoceima fish vendor Mouhcine Fikri, who was fatally crushed in October 2016 while trying to swordfish discarded by authorities, turned into a massive protest movement against unemployment and the lack of health and education facilities in the city and the surrounding area.
While the government has been criticized over its management of the crisis, especially after arresting dozens of activists under heavy charges, the “collective punishment” scenario over the region’s voting leanings could be an attempt by the PAM to use Rif protests to score points against its main rival.
During last general elections in October 2016, PAM won eight parliamentary seats in Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, edging the PJD with a slight margin. The Islamist party snatched seven seats.
However, on the national level the PJD beat its rival, winning a total of 125 seats out 395 in Parliament while the PAM, which was hoping to unseat the PJD from its position as Morocco’s major political force, won only 102.
Throughout the seven months of protests, political parties, including the PAM, have been unable to influence the course of events.
PAM leader Ilyas El Omari, a native of Al Hoceima, also serves as the president of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region.
In a recent interview with Hespress, El Omari said that officials, including him, “should be held accountable for failing Al Hoceima”.