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Thousands of Moroccans protest to topple Islamist-led government

Published: Updated:

Thousands of people on Sunday have taken to the streets in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, to protest against the country’s high unemployment rate and cost of living.

Protesters marched through the city ahead of plans by the Islamist-led government to push for social and economic reforms.

Al Arabiya TV correspondent Adel Zobairi said about 30,000 protesters gathered in the kingdom's capital, calling for the downfall of Islamist Prime Minister Abdel Ilah bin Kiran. One of the slogans raised in the protest was: "People rise up against bin Kiran the dictator."

“Morocco is witnessing social regression,” chanted protesters, including activists from the February 20 pro-reform movement, which was born of the Arab Spring protests sweeping the region in 2011.

The official Moroccan news agency, MAP, said members of opposition parties as well a human rights activists and civil society figures were also on the streets, alongside activists of the February 20 movement.

MAP quoted unidentified union leaders as saying the march was “a sort of warning” to Benkirane’s government.

The protesters said Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane had been pushing the country into a “ravine,” AFP news agency reported, while police said 3,000 marchers took part in the peaceful protest that led to the parliament building in central Rabat.

Morocco is facing slower growth and the budget deficit reached over six percent of GDP in 2011, against a backdrop of 30 percent youth unemployment.

Last December, people took to the streets to protest at high water and electricity prices. Many were injured in subsequent clashes.

In February 2011, anti-government protests broke out in Morocco. King Mohammed VI announced some reforms following the rallies, amending the Constitution to curtail his powers and hold early elections. The protesters, however, say the reforms do not go far enough.

The country has been facing serious economic troubles over the past few years, with high unemployment rate and rising levels of poverty.