Police out in force as 1,000 rally for reforms in Morocco

Rabat, Feb 26 (AFP) Almost 1,000 people rallied amid aheavy police presence in Morocco''s biggest city Casablancatoday to demand political reforms and a new constitution, awitness told AFP.

"There were nearly 1,000 people. Most of the sloganswere calling for political reforms and a new constitution,"the witness said.

The protest took place nearly a week after thousandsof people staged rallies demanding political reform and limitson the powers of King Mohammed VI under the so-called"February 20" movement.

"Unlike during the February 20 demonstration, thepolice presence was more visible today," one of theparticipants said.

Though largely peaceful, the previous protest wasfollowed by unrest that left six people dead.

Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui has blamed theviolence on rioters and ex-convicts, saying they had damagedor set fire to 33 public buildings, 24 banks, 50 businesses orprivate buildings and 66 vehicles.

Thousands of young Moroccans have joined the "February20" movement on the social networking site Facebook, callingfor peaceful demonstrations demanding a new constitutionlimiting the king''s powers and more social justice.

The call has similar origins to the revolts thattoppled decades-old regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and sparkedprotests in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Algeria. (AFP)

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