Protest marks five years of Morocco’s reform movement

A Moroccan holding her child walks past supporters of the February 20 pro-reform movement to mark the fifth anniversary of the movement's creation, on February 20, 2016 in the capital Rabat (AFP)

Hundreds of protesters gathered Saturday in Morocco's capital to mark the fifth anniversary of the country's pro-reform movement born during the Arab Spring, an AFP journalist said.

The demonstrators turned out to celebrate the "February 20 movement" born in 2011 to demand sweeping political and social reforms.

When it first emerged it mobilized mass demonstrations, but five years on members say little progress has been made towards reaching its goals.

"The February 20 movement is continuing its action five years on because nothing has changed since 2011 except the economic and social situation is now worse," said one demonstrator, 28-year-old Mohammed al-Masir.

Protesters walked from near Rabat's Old City to parliament, calling for "freedom, dignity and social justice" and "power to the people".

Authorities say most of the movement's demands were met after King Mohammed VI in 2011 introduced constitutional reforms that curbed his near absolute powers and held polls that saw the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) elected for the first time.

The movement lost much of its support when the PJD broke with it after the elections and after scores of activists were arrested and jailed.

Omar Balafrej, a member of the Moroccan leftist parties federation, said Morocco "sadly sanctifies social inequality and most citizens don't enjoy their dignity".

"The Moroccan people deserve better," he added.

Last Update: 05:26 KSA 08:26 - GMT 05:26