King Mohammed VI of Morocco on Tuesday sacked three ministers because of “delays in development programs” in the troubled northern Rif region, the palace said.
The area was gripped earlier this year by months of angry demonstrations calling for jobs, development and an end to corruption in the North African kingdom.
Morocco in 2015 launched a $700 million program to revive the northern port city of Al-Hoceima, a focal point of the protest movement.
But a report released on Tuesday cited “malfunctions” and unjustified delays, the royal Cabinet said.
“There was a big delay in launching projects, and worse, the majority of these projects were not even launched,” it said.
The ministers of education, Mohamed Hassad, health, Houcine El-Ouardi, and housing, Nabil Benabdellah, were relieved of their duties along with two other senior officials.
The sackings came the same day, as the leader of a protest movement that has shaken the Berber-majority Rif appeared in court in his first public appearance since being arrested in May.
Nasser Zefzafi emerged as a key figure in the Al-Hirak Al-Shaabi movement that called for jobs, development and an end to corruption.
In court on Tuesday, he raised his fist and declared that “they refuse to give us the floor because they know that what we say will be right.”
Charged with “undermining the internal security of the state,” Zefzafi could face the death penalty.
Originally sparked by the death of a fisherman crushed in a rubbish truck as he tried to salvage his confiscated catch, the demonstrations snowballed from grievances over local poverty into a major challenge to the authorities.
In response, security forces launched a crackdown, slinging the alleged leaders of the mainly young protesters in jail in May and June.
4 terror suspects held
Moroccan authorities have arrested four people suspected of planning attacks in the city of Fez, a tourist destination and spiritual center.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that a military uniform, knives and documents calling for jihad were seized during the operation.
This is the second suspected extremist cell dismantled in less than a month in Fez after 11 people were arrested on Oct. 14.
Culled from Here