Morocco’s King, Mohammed VI has sacked several ministers and top officials for delays in implementing development programmes in the country’s impoverished northern Rif region.
The dismissal affected the ministers of education, health and housing, and a junior minister of professional training. This followed an audit report by the kingdom’s accounting office.
The report indicated that “several sectors of government and public institutions” hadn’t fulfilled their commitments in implementing development projects worth nearly $700 million.
Prior to this decision, there have been numerous protests by residents in the northern city of Al-Hoceima, over what they consider neglect and marginalisation. The protestors were part of a movement known as Hirak al-Shaabi.
The sackings come just days before the anniversary of the death of a local vendor who was crushed in a garbage truck while trying to retrieve fish seized by police.
His death sparked an outbreak of protests in the mountainous region, which saw clashes between armed security forces and protesters.
The July riots prompted King Mohammed to announce major investments for the Rif region.
The king’s announcement also came amid the trial of Nasser Zefzafi in Casablanca. The protest leader and 29 others are accused of conspiracy against the state and protesting without authorisation. Their court hearing was adjourned to October 31.
Zefzaki’s lawyer told media that he could be sentenced to death in a worst-case scenario.
In July the king Mohammed VI pardoned a number of people arrested during the protests and blamed the failure of local officials for the quick implementation of development projects, causing public rage.