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Morocco king calls for rethink on poverty projects
October 22, 2017, 3:30 pm

Opening a new session of Parliament on 6 October, King Mohammed VI of Morocco delivered an uncompromising speech, where he termed the current model of development of the kingdom “unfit” to respond to the demands of Moroccans.

He ordered the government to rethink its development model, telling legislators the country’s anti-poverty programs are no longer working. The king was especially critical of the management of social programs and said that, “greater firmness is needed to break with the laissez-faire and fraudulent practices that harm the interests of citizens”.

Ordering an auditors inquiry into development projects around Morocco, the king said that tougher monitoring of such programs was needed. He urged the government to revise the development model to address existing imbalances.

The speech comes amid simmering discontent in Morocco’s northern Rif region over economic problems and corruption. The region recently witnessed a protest by citizens under the banner of ‘Thirst’, against the lack of clean drinking water in the region following a prolonged period of hot weather and drought.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Morocco, the country staged test runs on the continent’s first high-speed railway, which is slated to come into operation during the summer of 2018. The national railway network, ONCF, announced last week that following successful completion of a 275kmph test run held earlier this year, the railway was going ahead with the final speed test of 350kmph.

The earlier test of the high-speed rail project was witnessed by French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was in the country to monitor progress on the project, which is partly funded by France.

"At 270-275 kilometers per hour, this is already the fastest train on the African continent," Le Drian commented during a ceremony to mark the signing of a loan to the ONCF by the French Development Agency. France is providing 50 percent of the two-billion-euro cost and the rolling stock will be provided by France's Alstom engineering company.

The 350-kilometre link between Casablanca and Tangiers via the capital Rabat will cut journey times between the north African country's economic hubs by almost two-thirds, to just over two hours.  Difficult terrain and high winds on parts of the route have entailed some major engineering works, including the construction of 12km of viaducts.


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