(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
RABAT - Morocco's King Mohammed VI has pardoned dozens of people arrested in recent protests in a northern region and blamed the failure of local officials to quickly implement development projects for stoking public anger.
It was his first public address since the start of protests in October over injustice, corruption and underdevelopment following the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger crushed in a garbage truck retrieving stock confiscated by police.
Fikri's death triggered widespread anger and protests in the Rif region around Al-Hoceima, the town where he worked. These were the largest demonstrations since the 2011 Arab Spring inspired rallies that prompted the king to make constitutional reforms giving up some of his power.
"If the King of Morocco is not convinced by the way political activity is conducted and if he does not trust a number of politicians, what are the citizens left with?" Mohammed VI said during a televised speech commemorating the 18th anniversary of his ascension to the throne.
"To all those concerned I say: 'Enough is enough!' Fear God in what you are perpetrating against your homeland. Either carry out your duties fully or withdraw from public life."
Morocco's government spokesperson did not respond to calls for comment on what actions may be taken, but one government official presented the speech as a "direct conversation with the people" over the slow progress in development projects.
"The king has put his foot down, whoever doesn't do their work should leave their place for those who want to work," the official told Reuters.