WORLD

Moroccan king ‘displeased’ with lack of Rif development

MOROCCAN KING ‘DISPLEASED’ WITH LACK OF RIF DEVELOPMENT

Moroccan King Mohammed VI has voiced his "displeasure and concern" over the slow pace of development in the country's northern region, which in recent months has been rocked by an ongoing wave of protest activity.

The king's assertions came in a statement issued by the Royal Palace following a Sunday meeting of Morocco's council of ministers -- chaired by the king -- in Casablanca.

The ministerial meeting was held against the backdrop of ongoing protests by local youth in the town of Al-Hoceima and the northern Al-Rif region.

Along with more job opportunities, demonstrators demand stepped-up development of the remote northern region.

According to the palace statement, the king voiced his displeasure over the slow pace of development projects now being carried out within the framework of his "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean" initiative.

In October of 2015, the king presided over the launch of the four-year, $665-million initiative, which is aimed at promoting the region's development through a host of projects slated for completion in 2019.

In the statement, the king instructed both Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit and Finance Minister Mohammed Boussaid to prepare a report explaining why planned projects had so far failed to materialize.

The king also stressed the need to avoid the "politicization of social and development projects or their exploitation for narrow political purposes".

Last week, the king also ordered relevant government officials to expedite the development projects being carried out in Al-Rif and ensure that all those detained for taking part in recent protests received far trials.

Located on the northern cusp of Morocco's Al-Rif Mountains, Al-Hoceima in recent months has been roiled by protests by local youth demanding jobs and an end of perceived government corruption.

The demonstrations were initially sparked last October when a fisherman was crushed to death by a garbage truck in Al-Hoceima while protesting attempts by local authorities to confiscate his fish.

According to government officials, more than 125 people have been arrested to date for taking part in the protests, which have since spread to other parts of the country.

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