RABAT, Morocco ( Associated Press) — Thousands of Moroccans staged nationwide protests Sunday to complain about the soaring prices of fuel and other essential commodities.
The North African kingdom is the latest of several countries to see public anger erupt over high global energy prices, which are driving decades-high inflation numbers around the world.
The Moroccan demonstrations coincide with the 11th anniversary of the wave of protests known as the Feb. 20 movement, inspired by the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings that took place around the region in 2011.
In the capital of Rabat, a protest took place outside the parliament building. Holding placards, protesters chanted slogans against the government for its failure to keep spiraling prices under control, leading more people to fall into poverty.
Police were deployed in force around the protest site.
Smaller demonstrations broke out in other cities where protesters demanded that the government immediately intervene to improve the people’s purchasing power.
The minister delegate in charge of the budget, Fouzi Lekjaa, noted that the government has adopted multiple measures to alleviate the strain on Moroccan households, but acknowledged they remain “insufficient.”
The government blamed the spike in prices of basic goods on a combination of the global post-pandemic economic recovery and the increase in prices of grains and oil products on international markets.
The country is also reeling from the consequences of its worst drought in decades.
The national average rainfall for this rainy season so far is just 7.5 centimeters (3 inches), which is 64% lower than a normal year, according to a statement by the royal palace. It said 10 billion dirhams ($1 billion) have been allocated to mitigate the drought’s impact on the agricultural sector and the economy as a whole.
The sting of high energy prices and resulting inflation is being felt around the world, piling financial stress on governments, businesses and households. Countries are scrambling to address expensive utility bills and rising prices for food as farmers and supermarkets pass along their costs to customers, many of whom are facing a cost-of-living crisis.