On 29 July, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI called on the government to take “emergency measures” in order to address the country’s social and economic problems.
“I invite the government and all relevant actors to undertake a comprehensive and deep restructuring of national social protection and support programmes and policies and to submit proposals for their evaluation modalities,” King Mohammed said.
“We continue to be lacking something in social matters,” he added, pointing to social support and social protection programmes that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”
But did the King of Morocco believe that it was possible to “change without changing”?
When one looks back at the path the country has followed since 2011, it is tempting to say that for the palace, it was simply a question of “reproducing the previous system in a new institutional form”, to use the phrase of political scientist Lahouari Addi on Algeria.
Confronted by citizens who are asking their state to reinvent itself and shape a new horizon for them, Morocco is offering old wine in new bottles.
A wave of arrests
The king’s speech, delievered in the Rif region in the city of Al Hoceima where popular protests over poverty and neglect erupted in 2016, came almost a month after 53 Rif activists, including the Hirak’s protest leader, Nasser Zefzafi, were sentenced to up to 20 years in jail on charges of undermining state security and attacking law enforcement members.