News24

Morocco: 1 000s call for election boycott

2011-11-21 09:19

Casablanca - Thousands of people urged a boycott of Morocco's forthcoming election in peaceful rallies on Sunday called by the pro-reform February 20 movement.

At least 5 000 people demonstrated in the centre of Casablanca braving driving rain – 2 000 according to the interior ministry.

And in the capital Rabat, another 2 000, including some Islamists, turned out: the police put the figure at a thousand.

Slogans on placards included calls to boycott the elections and jibes at the corruption of politicians.

"In the absence of a democratic constitution, these elections are a waste of money," a student in his 20s, Karim, told AFP.

The February 20 movement grew out of the Arab Spring uprisings, bringing together radical Islamists, left-wing activists, students and independents.

They also called for a boycott of the constitutional referendum proposed by King Mohammed VI which they argued did not go far enough to qualify as a democratic constitution.

Under the reforms proposed by the monarch, which were passed in a July 1 referendum, Mohammed devolved some of his wide-ranging political powers to the prime minister and parliament.

But he remained head of state and the military and still appoints ambassadors and diplomats, while retaining the right to name top officials of unspecified "strategic" administrations.

He proposed the reforms in the wake of the wave of pro-democracy sentiment in Morocco and the Arab Spring uprisings in other countries, calling next Friday's election once the referendum had approved the changes.