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Jailed Moroccan protest leader ends hunger strike

Ahmed Zefzaki said his son has ended his hunger strike [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 September, 2018

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The leader of Morocco's main protest movement has ended a nearly week-long hunger strike.

Morocco's jailed protest leader movement, Nasser Zefzafi, ended his hunger strike on Thursday, his lawyers have said.

Zefzafi, who leads the Hirak protest movement, launched the protest six days ago against prison conditions.

He is serving a 20-year jail term for his involvement in Hirak, which saw protests across Morocco's marginalised north in 2016 and 2017.

He was jailed along with three others for "plotting to undermine the security of the state" and has been serving his sentence at the Oukacha prison in Casablanca.

The protest leader began the hunger strike on Friday with the aim of obtaining the same rights as other prisoners.

This includes being taken out of isolation and put in a "dignified cell where he can see and talk" with other detainees, his father Ahmed Zefzafi said at the time.

His lawyer Mohammed Aghnaj told AFP that Zefzafi had stopped his hunger strike on Thursday, without saying whether the demands had been met.

The Hirak movement began in 2016 following the death of fisherman Mouhcine Fikri was crushed while trying to retrieve a swordfish from a rubbish truck, which authorities allege was caught out of season.

There has been many cases of unrest in the Rif region - where the marginalised Berber ethnic group is the majority - with protesters calling for more jobs and development.

Hundreds of people were arrested in connection with the protests but King Mohamed VI has since pardoned nearly 190 of them.

In June, he was among 53 Hirak members sentenced by a Casablanca court - most of whom were given jail terms of one to five years.

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