Banned Islamists say time for change in Morocco

Mon Feb 7, 2011 4:44pm GMT

* Justice and Charity party sets ultimatum for change

* Demands "a democratic constitution"

* Says Morocco is following Ben Ali's policies

RABAT, Feb 7 (Reuters) - The banned Islamist group Justice and Charity, believed to be Morocco's biggest opposition force, has said "autocracy" will be swept away unless the country pursues deep democratic reform.

Authoritarian Arab leaders are watching carefully for signs of unrest spreading through the region after revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. 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. [ID:nLDE7130EC]

The group of Sufi inspiration is believed to have 200,000 members, most of whom are university students, and is active mainly in the poor districts of some cities. Banned from politics, its avowed aim is to achieve a peaceful transition to a pluralist political system inspired by Islam.

In a statement posted on its website late on Sunday, Justice and Charity said the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia left "no place today for distortions ... and empty, false promises.

"The gap between the ruler and the ruled has widened and confidence is lost.

"The solution is either a deep and urgent democratic reform that ends autocracy and responds to the needs and demands of the people, or the people take the initiative and (it) erupt peacefully ... to sweep autocracy away," it said.   Continued...

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