Morocco seeks drug suspect's extradition from Netherlands

2017-06-25 19:57
(File : AFP)

(File : AFP)

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Rabat - Morocco has sought the extradition from The Netherlands of an alleged drug trafficker and summoned its envoy from The Hague to come home for consultations, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry did not identify the suspect, but a senior government official named him as Said Chaou, a former lawmaker who backs the independence of the Rif region hit by weeks of protests.

Chaou reportedly posted messages online in support of demonstrators who have been demanding an end to corruption and jobs for the mainly Berber Rif region.

A foreign ministry statement said Rabat has asked The Hague to extradite "a notorious drug trafficker" who allegedly funds "some groups in northern Morocco".

It said authorities in Morocco had spoken to Dutch officials in the past two days about the suspect and told them that "concrete and urgent measures" should be taken against him.

As a result, Rabat "decided to immediately recall for consultations its ambassador to The Hague", the ministry said, adding the envoy's return would depend on future developments in the case.

The port of Al-Hoceima, in the Rif region, has been rocked by protests since October, when a fishmonger was crushed to death in a rubbish truck as he tried to retrieve swordfish that authorities had thrown away because it was caught out of season.

Calls for justice snowballed into a wider social movement led by Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement", demanding jobs, development, and an end to corruption for the mainly Berber region.

Demonstrators have rallied nightly in Al-Hoceima and the nearby town of Imzouren since the arrest of Al-Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi on May 29.

Since then authorities have arrested more than 100 people.

The Rif has a history of defying outsiders' attempts to control it.

In the 1920s, tribes there rose up against Spanish colonial rule. Local leader Abdelkrim El Khattabi inflicted a humiliating defeat on the occupiers and proclaimed the independent Republic of the Rif.

Ties with Morocco's central authorities have long been tense.

Just two years after Morocco won independence from France and Spain in 1956, the Rif revolted again - this time against the Arab-dominated government of the late King Hassan II.

The revolt was crushed in another bloody crackdown that cost between 5 000 and 8 000 lives.

Protests also rocked the Rif in 1984 and the region was also at the heart of Morocco's 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprisings against corruption.

Read more on:    morocco  |  north africa

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