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Protest marks five years of Morocco's reform movement

'February 20 movement' mobilised mass demonstrations, but 5 years on members say little progress has been made
Protests have continued in Morocco in spite of some reforms by King Mohammed VI after the Arab Spring in 2011 (AFP)
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Hundreds of protesters gathered in Morocco's capital Rabat on Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the country's pro-reform movement, born during the Arab Spring, an AFP journalist said.

The demonstrators turned out to celebrate the "February 20 movement" born in 2011 to demand sweeping political and social reforms.

When it emerged it mobilised mass demonstrations, but five years on members say little progress has been made towards reaching its goals.

"The February 20 movement is continuing its action five years on because nothing has changed since 2011 except the economic and social situation is now worse," said one demonstrator, 28-year-old Mohammed al-Masir.

Protesters walked from near Rabat's Old City to parliament, calling for "freedom, dignity and social justice" and "power to the people".

A female protestor marches in Rabat on 20 February, 2016 (AFP)

Authorities say most of the movement's demands were met after King Mohammed VI in 2011 introduced constitutional reforms that curbed his near-absolute powers and held polls that saw the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) elected for the first time.

The movement lost much of its support when the PJD broke with it after the elections and after scores of activists were arrested and jailed.

Omar Balafrej, a member of the Moroccan leftist parties federation, said Morocco "sadly sanctifies social inequality and most citizens don't enjoy their dignity".

"The Moroccan people deserve better," he added.

A Moroccan supporter of the February 20 pro-reform movement Protester wears a mask bearing a portrait of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane during a demonstration to mark the fifth anniversary the movement's creation (AFP)