Calling People in Al Hoceima Separatists is out of Question Govt

Rabat – Government spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi has rejected claims that the ongoing Rif protests are motivated by separatism sentiment, backpedaling the government coalition’s earlier allusions that the demonstrations were sponsored by foreign powers.Khalfi, appearing Sunday on Moroccan channel 2M, said that calling “our people” in Al Hoceima “separatists” is out of question.During the interview, the spokesperson and minister in charge of relations with parliament and civil society said that Thursday’s march reflected the tenacious and strong character of the people of the Rif. Just a few hours before Al Hoceima’s demonstration last Thursday, the government in council had adopted a more conciliatory tone, with its spokesman admitting “the legitimacy of the social demands of the inhabitants of the region.”El Khalfi also pointed out that the security landing that accompanied the march was intended to keep order throughout the demonstration so as not to fall into any skirmishes, while highlighting that “there was a campaign on social networking sites claiming the militarization of the city, while these images that have been circulating are incorrect. “The march continued in a peaceful atmosphere and the youth who led the movement formed human chains to protect public property, which confirms that they had no problem with the presence of policemen in city.El Khalfi also stressed that there is no option to address the demands raised by the Rif movement except through dialogue and listening, as well as speeding up the completion of the development projects launched in the region.The government spokesman didn’t fail to point out that the Al Hoceima demonstrations, since their emergence after the death of Mohsin Fikri last October, has seen more than 700 peaceful protests, during which no violence was recorded except for isolated incidents that were rejected by the leaders of the movement.The minister also revealed that the government has adopted during its last council a decision by a number of ministers to conduct field visits to review the course of development of works on a number of projects.El Khalfi said that many projects are nearing completion, such as the Taza-Al Hoceima highway, which has is now 75% complete, and which has cost about MAD 4 billion to dismantle the isolation of a large number of rural centers in the region.“Several projects have been launched to rehabilitate infrastructure in the areas of health and education at a cost of more than MAD 500 million, as well as the development of a dam near the Ghaith valley and another desalination project,” El Khalfi said.