Morocco’s King Mohammed sacks minister for economy and finance

Morocco’s king urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues.
Wednesday 01/08/2018
Moroccan King Mohammed VI greets the crowd at his palace in Tetouan, on July 31. (AFP)
Moroccan King Mohammed VI greets the crowd at his palace in Tetouan, on July 31. (AFP)

LONDON – Moroccan King Mohammed VI sacked the country’s minister for economy and finance on Wednesday, according to a statement by the Royal Cabinet.

"In accordance with the provisions of article 47 of the Constitution, the King Mohammed VI decided, after consulting the head of the government, to put an end to the functions of Mohamed Boussaid," read the Royal Cabinet statement. “This Royal decision is part of the implementation of the principle of accountability which His Majesty is keen to apply to all officials whatever their ranks or affiliations.”

The dismissal of Boussaid, who has held his position since 2013, comes just days after the Moroccan King gave a speech in which he was critical of the country’s political class and urged for “urgent action” to address social issues, particularly health and education. 

King Mohammed VI is also reported to have received economic reports criticising the country’s slow pace of reform. 

In a speech marking his 19th anniversary on the throne on Sunday, King Mohammed VI said that despite important accomplishments, “we continue to be lacking something in social matters,” pointing to social support and social protection programmes that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”

Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2017, it was ranked 123rd out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index.

In his speech, the king called for accelerating the establishment of a national system to register families for social support programmes and invited the government to “undertake a comprehensive and deep restructuring” of existing programmes.

He also called for “a strong boost to programmes to support schooling” and a reshaping of the health system, which “is characterised by glaring inequalities and weak management.”

The king’s speech was delivered in the northern city of al-Hoceima which was the epicentre of the “Hirak Rif” protest movement that rocked the country in 2016 and 2017.

The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.

Over the past week Moroccan media have said they expect a royal pardon for dozens of demonstrators and activists who were sentenced in late June to up to 20 years in prison.

The 54-year-old monarch made no reference to the protests in his speech.

Afterwards, an official statement said 1,200 pardons were granted, without specifying if the jailed demonstrators were among them. Moroccan media said none of the Hirak protestors was pardoned.

(The Arab Weekly staff and news agencies)