Morocco bans judges' protest, riot police close streets in capital
RABAT (REUTERS) - Moroccan authorities banned a sit-in on Saturday by hundreds of judges who want greater independence for the judiciary, deploying dozens of riot police to central Rabat and closing off streets around the Justice Ministry.
Nearly three years after protests inspired by the Arab Spring prompted King Mohamed to undertake limited reforms and propelled an Islamist party to power, his government is now re-asserting its authority in what rights groups describe as a step backwards.
Since independence in 1956, Morocco's justice system has been seen by critics as largely under the control of the North African country's powerful monarchy.
The reforms introduced by the king in 2011 did award the judiciary more autonomy, but the opposition says it is still not fully independent.