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Morocco restores military service for under-25s

The draft law is expected to be passed by lawmakers in October [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 August, 2018

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A plan to reintroduce mandatory military service in Morocco has sparked criticism, with many youngsters unhappy with the new measure.

Morocco has moved to reintroduce compulsory military service for men and women between the ages of 19 and 25, with those drafted having to serve a year in the army, navy or airforce.

The draft law on military service was approved by King Mohammed VI's ministerial council on Monday and is expected to pass through parliament smoothly when tabled for debate in October.

Morocco abolished military service in 2006 to save money.

"Female and male citizens aged between 19 and 25 years are obliged to do military service for 12 months," Royal Palace Spokesman Abdelhak Lamrini said in a statement.

The council said the aim is "to strengthen the sense of citizenship among young people".

Refusing to serve could be punished with one to three months in prison and a fine.

The plan provoked an immediate outcry on social media, with critics arguing that the government wants to turn young Moroccans, among the hardest hit by unemployment, into brainwashed patriots.

Unemployment and a perceived lack of government investment has sparked waves of unrest in economically marginalised areas of Morocco, particularly the northern Rif region and the eastern town of Jerrada.

King Mohammed addressed these concerns in a televised speech given aftee the council's meeting, saying that more will be done to increase opportunities for young people.

"We cannot let our education system continue to produce unemployed people, especially in certain branches of study, where graduates - as everyone knows - find it extremely hard to access the job market," he said.

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