After lull, job protests resume in Morocco capital

Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:29am GMT

RABAT (Reuters) - At least 1,000 protesters took to the streets of the Moroccan capital on Thursday to demand public sector jobs after a relative lull following the ousting of neighbour Tunisia's president by a popular uprising.

The protests resumed as the government's February 10 deadline expired for recruiting 4,500 highly-qualified graduates, Youssef Hdidou, who heads one of several groups of unemployed graduates, said.

"In a meeting with authorities on January 24, they asked us for a truce in the daily protests out of consideration for what they said was happening in the region," Hdidou told Reuters.

Authoritarian Arab leaders are watching carefully for signs of unrest spreading through the region after revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. But Credit rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Fitch have said Morocco is the least likely Maghreb state to be affected by the wave of popular unrest.

Before the protest began, Communication Minister Khalid Naciri said the government was showing "a lot of willingness" in trying to solve the issue of jobless graduates quickly.

Morocco witnesses at least 21 protests nationwide every day, he said. "We consider this to be a normal average ... It's an indicator that reassures us," Naciri told reporters.

Hdidou said an adviser of the prime minister and a senior official from Rabat's prefectorate asked the groups during a meeting on Thursday to defer the deadline to March 1.

"Leaders of the groups are discussing with members the next step. For us, this is just another empty promise. We are fed up of brutal interventions by the police and living far from home. It's not a dream for a Phd and master degree holder," he said.

The government has not been able to stimulate the agriculture-reliant economy enough to create even half the 250,000 private and public sector jobs it pledged to create annually in the five years to 2012, according to official data.   Continued...

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