Rabat – Secretary General of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU), Nabila Mounib, has said that “the government failed utterly to deal with the Rif protests.”
In a televised interview with France 24 Arabic, Mounib, said that “the parties’ leaders of the coalition government are merely opportunists,” adding that their response to the now seven-month old protests has been to “criminalize it by calling the activists ‘separatists and agents of foreign countries.’”
“The Hirak demands are social and economic, because it has suffered for many years,” she explained. “Nowadays, the Rif is groaning and calling for its rights but nobody cares.”
Asked about why the political parties have not respond to the demands of the protesters, Mounib, said, “The parties have been suppressed – some parties were established to be loyal to the system.”
“Today, the Rif is calling for social justice and says that the reconciliation that was supposed to be in Morocco has not been achieved in Rif and other regions,” she continued. “The Rif is calling to open a serious and fair discussion for its demands.”
Mounib added that currently the main demand is the release of the detained activists.
According to Mounib, it is not fair that ‘corrupt’ officials walk free while protesters asking for economic opportunity are behind bars: “It is not fair that the ‘thieves’ (officials) who have stolen the public money are now enjoying freedom.” She did not, however, specify which officials were thieves.
Mounib called on officials to “open and launch actual development projects.”
Protests initially erupted in Al Hoceima following the death of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri, who was fatally crushed in a garbage compactor in October 2016. Since then, 700 sit-ins have been held in the region of Al Hoceima.
Over the past few weeks, the tension has grown following the police’s pursuit and arrest of leading activist Nasser Zafzafi. He was taken to custody last Monday along with other activists after interrupting a Friday sermon he felt was unfairly denouncing the “Hirak” movement. Zafzafi has been charged with “obstructing the right of worship” and “undermining state security.” He has been placed in custody with six other detainees in Casablanca’s Oukacha prison.