Sidi Ifni

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This is a very good example of the gap between those who rule and their subjects!!!

Renewed Sidi Ifni protests lead to police intervention


Residents of Sidi Ifni and surrounding areas mounted a new protest this week against unemployment and underdevelopment in the region. When demonstrators attempted a new blockade of the city's port facilities, police stepped in to restore order.

By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 21/08/08

[Getty Images] Moroccan security forces removed protestors from Sidi Ifni port for the second time this year. Demonstrators called for action against unemployment and underdevelopment in the region.

Police in the Moroccan port town of Sidi Ifni have intervened once again to quell protests against government inaction in the impoverished region. Law enforcement officers were dispatched on Tuesday (August 19th) to disperse some 300 demonstrators who had begun a new blockade of the city’s port a day earlier, preventing more than a hundred lorries carrying fishery products from leaving the facility.

According to locals, the protesters – some of whom hail from neighbouring towns such as Tiznit, Agadir and Guelmim – started fires in several areas and threw stones at law enforcement officers. As they did during the previous flare-up on June 7th, police responded with tear gas and surrounded whole districts, particularly in Jebel Bouâlam.

According to one of the demonstrators, the sit-in had started peacefully.

“We staged it because the state hasn’t taken any decisions to stop the city from being marginalised, despite what happened in June,” Mohammed told Magharebia. “Nothing is being done about the demonstrators’ demands; we’re not going to keep quiet while the government hasn’t responded to our requests, which are fully legitimate,” he said.

Earlier this year, protesters put forth several demands, including the construction of a fish processing factory to reduce unemployment.

The police made a number of arrests after Tuesday’s protest, but are still searching for its suspected organisers. Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa announced he will visit Sidi Ifni as soon as the attempted blockade of the port has ended. He called the acts of vandalism in the city “unacceptable” and warned that security forces will tackle any similar acts with equal resolve.

Benmoussa also refuted the protesters’ claim that Sidi Ifni is marginalised, explaining that studies are under way to provide additional port facilities and to improve their productivity. He also said the successful completion of any project in the region will depend on a suitable climate for investment – one without protests and other disruptions.

“Its activity has multiplied in a single year. This proves the important role that this infrastructure could play in terms of promoting socio-economic sectors in the city,” he concluded.

Agriculture and Sea Fisheries Minister Aziz Akhenouch said the port of Sidi Ifni, which employs more than 4,000 people, is a vital part of regional infrastructure. He declared it unacceptable that the interests of the state and the private sector should be affected without reason. “The constant dynamism seen in the port of Sidi Ifni benefits the local population first and foremost. I hope to see all residents in the region grasp the full extent of this objective truth,” he said.

A strong-arm intervention by police in Sidi Ifni lifted a blockade of the port on June 7th after more than a week under siege by young unemployed Moroccans.

A parliamentary select committee was set up to gather information about the events. The long-awaited report on its findings is planned for the new legislative session, which begins in October.