Moroccan government calls for calm after riots

AFP, Friday 3 Feb 2012

Government denounces violent clashes between youths and police in the town of Taza that injured around 100 people on both sides and urges dialogue as the only means to resolve problems

Archive photo of Morocco's Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane during the first meeting of the government in Rabat (Photo: Reuters)

Morocco's Communications Minister Mustapha Khelfi called Friday for talks and a return to calm after violent clashes between youths and police in the northeastern town of Taza, where dozens were injured.

"Calm prevails in Taza and we are getting on top of the situation. The authorities are concerned with maintaining order and with responding to the legitimate demands of the population," Khelfi told AFP.

The mid-week clashes pitted the police against mainly unemployed youths and other disadvantaged persons, injuring about 100 people on both sides, according to Moroccan press reports.

Several papers on Friday showed front-page pictures of burnt-out cars and public buildings that had been ransacked. Taza is in one of the poorest parts of the north African kingdom, where such violence is sporadic.

"Dialogue is the only means to resolve these problems. Insofar as the right to demonstrate peacefully is guaranteed, the respect for public property should also be ensured," Khelfi said.

Morocco's new government, which was officially put in place by parliament last week, is confronted with difficult social conditions with a high rate of unemployment in the nation of 33 million people, most of whom are poor.

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