First Published: 2017-06-16

Investors buy more Morocco bonds despite Rif unrest
North African’s top-performing bonds in this quarter continue to lure investors even as protests against corruption, unemployment continue in northern Rif region.
Middle East Online

Casablanca stock exchange

LONDON - Investors continue to pour their money in Morocco’s top-performing bonds in the North African region this quarter despite the ongoing protests in the northern region against marginalisation.

Yields on securities issued by the region’s lone investment-grade nation have dropped even as Morocco’s Rif region has been shaken by seven months of demonstrations over unemployment and corruption, according to Bloomberg, citing bets that the Islamist-led government’s ability to maintain a six-year track record of defusing tensions and an appetite for riskier assets behind the gains.

The mainly Berber Rif region has been rocked by social unrest since the gruesome death of a fishmonger in Al-Hoceima last year.

Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was crushed to death in a rubbish truck in October as he tried to prevent the destruction of swordfish which had been confiscated because it was caught out of season.

Calls for justice snowballed into a wider social movement led by Al-Hirak demanding development, an end to corruption and jobs for the Rif which has long had a tense relationship with the central authorities in Rabat, and it was at the heart of the Arab Spring-inspired protests in Morocco in February 2011.

King Mohammed VI relinquished some of his near-absolute control through constitutional reforms following the 2011 protests.

“There won’t be a selloff as long as the monarchy prevails,” Hakki Vural, a money manager at Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH told Bloomberg.

“We are paying attention to the recent anti-government protests,” said Vural, who owns Moroccan bonds.

“But the conflict may be contained because “political and social support for King Mohammed remains high” and the government has taken steps to reduce rural unemployment,” he added.

 

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