Moroccan medical students protest compulsory civil service

465208 img650x420 img650x420 cropRABAT: Thousands of Moroccan medical students took to the streets of Rabat Wednesday to protest a bill that would institute mandatory two-year civil service for graduates.

Organizers said around 5,000 students from across the country took part in the demonstration outside the health ministry.

The ministry submitted the bill to parliament for discussion earlier this year, prompting a strike by medical students, who have boycotted classes for two months.

The bill stipulates that after they finish their studies and before they can enter the job market, graduates undertake two years of public service in posts and places dictated by the ministry.

Opponents say it would violate the constitution by exploiting medical graduates, making them work for low pay.

"What pushed us to boycott classes for 60 days... and declare a national strike is a compulsory civil service that would exploit us for two years," protester Alaa told AFP.

He said the project would "throw Moroccan doctors into the unknown and prevent them from working".

Issaoui is a member of the national coordination movement of medical students who are demanding that any future law be based on international labour legislation and the constitution.

"Imposing a mandatory civil service project is against the constitution," said Hassna Bouthalja, a member of the movement based in Casablanca, calling for a "dialogue" with authorities.

There was no immediate official reaction.

Earlier this month, the ministry said the geographic distribution of doctors in Morocco was inadequate.

It noted that 45 percent of doctors are based in two of the country's 12 regions – Rabat and Casablanca – which are home to a third of the country's population.

In July, King Mohammed VI urged the government to develop remote regions of the North African nation to improve infrastructure and social services, including health and education.

According to the World Health Organization, access to health care in Morocco is difficult, especially for low-income families.


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