World News

Morocco reinstates compulsory military service for under-25s

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco’s ministerial council on Monday approved a draft law reinstating compulsory military service for young men and women for the first time since 2006, the Royal Cabinet said in a statement.

“Female and male citizens aged between 19 and 25 years are obliged to do military service for 12 months,” said the statement, read out by Royal Palace spokesman Abdelhak Lamrini.

The draft law, which will enter into force once it is published in the official bulletin, will set out exemptions and the rights and responsibilities of military service participants, the statement said.

“The military service aims to promote patriotism among the young, within the framework of the correlation between the rights and responsibilities of citizenship,” it said.

Morocco has seen youth-led protests in economically marginalized areas such as the Northern Rif region and the eastern town of Jerrada in recent months. Some critics see the law as a move to encourage loyalty to the state among young people facing economic and social problems.

The ministerial council is chaired by King Mohammed, who is also the supreme commander and chief of general staff of Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces.

After the council meeting, the King delivered a televised speech urging the government to do more to curb unemployment and improve the educational system and vocational training.

“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.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, editing by Aidan Lewis and Rosalba O’Brien