Morocco king sacks economy minister amid unrest

Morocco king sacks economy minister amid unrest
Protests have rocked the North African country since 2016, particularly in the underdeveloped Rif region.
2 min read
01 August, 2018
Morocco's King Mohammed VI at the Royal Palace in Casablanca [Getty]

Morocco's King Mohammed VI sacked the country's economy minister on Wednesday, amid social unrest over widespread graft and high unemployment levels. 

The king decided to dismiss Mohamed Boussaid after "consulting with the head of the government," read a royal statement carried by official agency MAP.

Boussaid is a member of the liberal RNI party and has held the post since 2013 under the two governments led by the Islamist PJD party. 

The palace's decision comes amid a drive to enforce the "principle of accountability that the king is anxious to apply to all officials, regardless of their rank," the statement said. 

In a major speech on Sunday the king called for "urgent action" to address key issues, in particular health and education.

The speech was delivered in the northern city of al-Hoceima which was the epicentre of the "Hirak" protest movement that rocked the country in 2016 and 2017. 

The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fishmonger and spiralled into a wave of demonstrations demanding more development in the neglected Rif region.

Boussaid's sacking marks the fourth time a minister was fired in the current government. In October 2017 the king sacked the ministers of education, planning and housing over unrest in the Rif region. 

Meanwhile, over the past week Moroccan media have said they expect a royal pardon for dozens of demonstrators and activists who were sentenced in late June to up to 20 years in prison.

Twelve-hundred pardons were granted this week, according to an official statement, but it was not specified whether jailed demonstrators were among them. Moroccan media said none of the "Hirak" protesters were pardoned.

In 2017, Morocco was ranked 123 out of 188 countries on the UN's Human Development Index.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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