Moroccan ministers fired for alleged uplift delays

Morocco's King Mohammed VI (C) delivering a speech. (AFP file)
Updated 26 October 2017
0

Moroccan ministers fired for alleged uplift delays

RABAT: King Mohammed VI of Morocco on Tuesday sacked three ministers because of “delays in development programs” in the troubled northern Rif region, the palace said.
The area was gripped earlier this year by months of angry demonstrations calling for jobs, development and an end to corruption in the North African kingdom.
Morocco in 2015 launched a $700 million program to revive the northern port city of Al-Hoceima, a focal point of the protest movement.
But a report released on Tuesday cited “malfunctions” and unjustified delays, the royal Cabinet said.
“There was a big delay in launching projects, and worse, the majority of these projects were not even launched,” it said.
The ministers of education, Mohamed Hassad, health, Houcine El-Ouardi, and housing, Nabil Benabdellah, were relieved of their duties along with two other senior officials.
The sackings came the same day, as the leader of a protest movement that has shaken the Berber-majority Rif appeared in court in his first public appearance since being arrested in May.
Nasser Zefzafi emerged as a key figure in the Al-Hirak Al-Shaabi movement that called for jobs, development and an end to corruption.
In court on Tuesday, he raised his fist and declared that “they refuse to give us the floor because they know that what we say will be right.”
Charged with “undermining the internal security of the state,” Zefzafi could face the death penalty.
Originally sparked by the death of a fisherman crushed in a rubbish truck as he tried to salvage his confiscated catch, the demonstrations snowballed from grievances over local poverty into a major challenge to the authorities.
In response, security forces launched a crackdown, slinging the alleged leaders of the mainly young protesters in jail in May and June.
4 terror suspects held
Moroccan authorities have arrested four people suspected of planning attacks in the city of Fez, a tourist destination and spiritual center.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that a military uniform, knives and documents calling for jihad were seized during the operation.
This is the second suspected extremist cell dismantled in less than a month in Fez after 11 people were arrested on Oct. 14.


Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze

Updated 21 February 2019
0

Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze

  • Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA's payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis
  • Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian finance minister on Thursday announced salary cuts for civil servants, days after Israel said it would withhold tens of millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.
Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA's payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis.
Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA, says the payments encourage further violence.
The PA claims they are a form of welfare to families who have lost their main breadwinner.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel.
The PA, which is already running a deficit, will "pay the salaries of civil servants in time, but they will be reduced", said PA finance minister Shukri Bishara after a meeting with EU representatives in Ramallah.
The cuts will not apply to salaries "paid to pensioners and families of martyrs, wounded or prisoners", he added, adding that wages below 2,000 shekels ($550) would also not be affected.
Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes in their conflict with Israel. Palestinian leaders often venerate them as martyrs.
Under a 1994 agreement, Israel collects around $190 million each month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
The money it then transfers to the PA is the authority's most important source of revenue.
The Palestinians want EU countries to pressure the Israeli government to rescind its decision, said Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy of Abbas's Fatah party.
Palestinian leaders will take steps to "boycott Israeli goods", he said, adding they had already prepared "a list of Israeli products that have local (Palestinian) equivalents".