Moroccan king extends pay hike to armed forces


Morocco’s King Mohammed has ordered public and private sector wage and pension rises also benefit the army, paramilitary police, auxiliary forces and civil rescue services.

Morocco on Tuesday agreed to raise public sector salaries in a handout estimated at more than US $5 billion over three years as demands for reform put pressure on the Arab world’s longest-serving dynasty.

The king’s fiat, the official MAP news agency said, depicts the “benevolent regard he has not ceased to grant to the improvement of the conditions of all the social components of the Moroccan society, especially the families” of the army, Reuters reports.

The Royal Armed Forces, as the Moroccan army is known, “ensure, under … (the king’s) high command, the defence of the kingdom’s territorial integrity, security and stability,” MAP said.

By law, Morocco is a constitutional monarchy but the constitution grants the king wide prerogatives including the appointment of the prime minister and the dissolution of parliament.

The king, who is also the supreme commander of the army, promised last month a constitutional reform that should limit his political clout by allowing the prime minister to be elected and make the judiciary independent.

The pledged wage rises, along with other handouts, have not stemmed street protests spearheaded by the February 20 Movement the youth-led group. The monarchy is trying to prevent a spillover of popular revolt from other north African countries.

Tens of thousands of Moroccans marched peacefully on Sunday to demand reforms.

The government reached the agreement before Labour Day marches on May 1. Analysts had been expecting the government to speed up an agreement with the unions ahead of Labour Day when the February 20 Movement has said it will join trade union marches.

The agreement grants public sector employees a net 600 dirhams per month increase as of May 1. The minimum pension for public and private sector pensioners is to go up almost 70 percent to 1,000 dirhams per month.

Some members of the paramilitary police, civil rescue and the auxiliary forces, the latter often used to tame protests and fight riots, have taken to the social networking website Facebook to demand better pay and working conditions.

Put together, the army, paramilitary police, auxiliary forces and civil rescue number about 220,000. The army has a additional reserve numbering about 120,000.