Morocco reduces jail terms for 5 activists
Morocco reduces jail terms for 5 activists
The five young men had variously been given prisons terms of between eight and 10 months in September on charges that also included attacking public officials in the course of duty.
While cutting their sentences, the appeals court in Casablanca also ordered them to pay 7,500 dirhams (around 700 euros) each in civil damages and fines.
A sixth female defendant, Laila Nassimi, had her suspended sentence reduced from six to three months.
The activists were arrested in July 2012 after taking part in a demonstration in a poor neighborhood of Casablanca, Clashes broke out when police tried to disperse the protesters.
On Tuesday, members of the February 20 movement, which was formed in 2011 by youths demanding democratic reform and action on a range of social grievances, accused the police of adopting new repression tactics against fellow activists.
More than 50 of its members were jailed last year, according to local rights groups.
“The attitude of the police has changed from the direct repression of activists to threats of putting people out of work or arresting them for assaulting and insulting public employees,” said spokesman Mustafa Al Goumri.
He also claimed that the police were fabricating charges of drug dealing to imprison activists, referring in particular to the case of Driss Bouterrada, who was jailed for a year at the end of last month for possession and trafficking of drugs.
In October last year, a Moroccan court jailed another February 20 activist, Bashir Benshaib, for 12 years on charges that included blocking a road, theft, aggression, drug dealing and taking part in an unauthorized demonstration.
Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances
- Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week
- The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force
ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has picked prominent ministers to run for parliament next month, strengthening the ruling AK Party’s chances of winning a majority but putting their future role in government into question, party officials say.
Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week by the party to run for parliament in the June 24 poll, where the Islamist-rooted AK Party faces a stiff challenge from an opposition alliance.
While boosting the list of candidates, the move could affect the shape of the future cabinet because lawmakers will not be able to hold ministerial posts under the new presidential system, unless they resign their seats.
The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force, but recent opinion polls have suggested it could struggle to win an absolute majority, even with the support of its nationalist MHP ally.
The latest fall in the lira, which has lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar this year, could also work against Erdogan if voters fear the government is pushing prices and the cost of living higher.
Erdogan is still widely expected to win the presidential election to be held the same day. While the presidency will take on greater executive authority afterwards, an opposition-controlled parliament could vote down legislation.
“Erdogan wants to win a parliamentary majority in this critical election with a strong list,” said one AK Party member running for parliament.
A survey by MAK pollsters, viewed as sympathetic to the ruling party, showed on Wednesday that the parliamentary race is absolutely balanced, with the AK Party together with the MHP winning exactly 50.0 percent. In the presidential vote, it saw Erdogan winning 51.4 percent.
The move to throw high profile ministers into the parliamentary race could have a major impact on the composition of next cabinet.
“Under normal circumstances, those who are in the (parliamentary) list will not be appointed ministers,” a senior AK Party official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Finance Minister Naci Agbal was not named as a parliamentary candidate, and three sources said he was expected to remain in the post-election cabinet.
However, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci is expected to leave the cabinet and run for a mayoral office, the sources said, while the future of Mehmet Simsek, deputy prime minister with responsibility for the economy, was undecided.
Investors have been watching closely for signals about Simsek’s role. As a former investment banker in New York and London, he is seen as one of the most investor-friendly members of a government at odds with economic orthodoxy.
The Turkish lira, already one of the weakest emerging market currencies this year, has lost another 13 percent against the dollar since Erdogan said in London last week that he planned to take greater control of the economy and that the central bank would not be able to ignore signals from the new executive presidency.
“Erdogan will make the last call on Simsek. Although Simsek’s policies are sometimes criticized, everyone knows that it’s hard to replace him,” an AK Party official said.
Simsek congratulated those on the party’s parliamentary list on Tuesday, adding in a tweet: “Onwards, no stopping.”
Officials say economic management is expected to be overseen by one of five vice presidents in a cabinet made up of 14 ministers — down from the current 21.
The changes have not yet been finalized, however, and may not be completed before the election, one of the AK Party officials said.