morocco police break up protest by jobless graduates
Last Updated : GMT 18:18:47
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Morocco police break up protest by jobless graduates

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Morocco police break up protest by jobless graduates

Rabat - Arabstoday

Moroccan police with batons broke up a protest by more than a thousand unemployed graduates in central Rabat on Wednesday, the second protest this week before parliament votes on the first part of the 2013 budget. Public finances are in dire straits in the North African country of 33 million people due largely to the euro zone\'s financial crisis. Europe is Morocco\'s main economic partner. Increased social spending last year that helped to contain Arab Spring protests has also put a squeeze on the budget. Leftist and Islamist graduates protested in different groups of several hundred each in the area around the Moroccan parliament, in an apparent effort to outwit police who prevented protesters gathering outside the parliament building on Sunday. The graduates said the government had broken promises made in the past year. \"We want jobs,\" said protester Hicham el-Hachemi. \"We got a written promise and the attention of the government, so we are here to push them to take us into consideration.\" Protesters chanted \"The people want the fall of the government\" and \"People, rise against the dictatorial regime\" outside parliament before police ran towards them to make them move. The crowd also chanted its disapproval over residents of Western Sahara being given jobs seen as pay-offs for loyalty to Morocco, whose control of the sparsely populated territory to the south is challenged by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. \"If the government doesn\'t respond, we will unify all the jobless and organise a massive protest,\" said Mohamed Amine Sekkal, one of the organisers of the protest. Small protests have become a common occurence in Rabat but have picked up this week ahead of the budget vote on Thursday. On Sunday police used force to break up a rare protest against the size of King Mohammed\'s royal expenditures. Last year the king reacted swiftly with constitutional changes after Morocco saw large-scale protests for political and economic reforms following uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Under the new constitution he keeps control of military, security and religious affairs, while parliament legislates and the government runs the country. Anger over rising prices, unemployment and wealth distribution is prevalent in a country where a quarter of the population live in poverty. The government puts unemployment at about 9 percent but it is thought to be much higher among graduates. Morocco projects 4.5 percent economic growth for 2013, and a reduction in its budget deficit to 4.8 percent of gross domestic product from 5 percent forecast by the government for this year.

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