By Siham Ali
Abdelilah Benkirane’s government looks to do more than follow through on their own pledges to unemployed young people; they plan to resolve job issues left unsettled by the former Moroccan administration.
The previous government promised last year to employ 4,304 graduate holders for government positions, but 2,300 young people have yet to be granted jobs, Economic and General Affairs Minister Mohamed Najib Boulif said.
The recruitment will take place on the basis of merit and competition from now on, Boulif said. The government cannot keep recruiting graduates directly, he mentioned.
“I know that master’s students from the 2012 cohort are preparing to go out and demonstrate in the streets once they have graduated,” he said. “We can’t go on accepting this. The public sector cannot absorb all graduates.”
The new government finds itself under increasing pressure to provide jobs.
Even before the government was sworn in, groups of protestors staged sit-ins in Rabat. Some occupied a building belonging to the ministry of education. Three demonstrators set themselves on fire. One of them, Abdelwahab Zeidoun, 27, died on January 24th.
Protests have taken place in Al Barid Square, the seat of Morocco’s parliament. Police officers broke up some of the demonstrations.
“Peaceful demonstrations are a right guaranteed by law, but at the same time, they must not compromise the interests of other citizens, cause obstructions or result in the occupation of public institutions,” Communication Minister and government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi told journalists on Thursday (February 2nd).
Some protestors, however, complained about anti-riot security measures.
“We had high hopes that there would be change, and in particular a ban on using security measures to repress demonstrations of public grievances – a tactic that has failed in several regions of the world,” protestor Abdessamed El Bernoussi said.
On the subject of self-immolations, Justice and Freedoms Minister Mustapha Ramid told protestors on January 26th that those who set themselves ablaze are solely responsible for their actions. He pledged to launch an investigation into allegations that emergency services failed to help demonstrators in time.
Many young people struggle to comprehend how someone could reach the point of despair to take one’s life by self-immolation. Though employment is a right that should be guaranteed by the state, they say, the despair caused by joblessness should not drive anyone to suicide.
“There is no excuse for suicide,” said Kenza Hamraoui, a business management graduate who has been out of work for five years. “In the past, some campaigners were tortured and imprisoned for years, but they never gave up hope. They got out and lived for many happy years afterwards. I’m sad that I haven’t found a job. My parents are poor, too. But I still have hope for the future.”