Morocco to abolish conscription

Morocco is to abolish compulsory military service in a move aimed at blocking infiltration of the military by Islamists hatching an anti-monarchist plot.

Analysts believe the security concerns had deepened since the discovery in August of a group, Ansar Al Mehdi (Mehdi Partisans), accused by government of planning to launch a holy war to establish a caliphate Islamic state.

The group infiltrated the army and police to recruit at least nine of their members.

"This text of law came to abolish the obligatory military service with immediate effect, according to the instructions of his Majesty King Mohammed, the commander-in-chief and the chief of staff of the royal armed forces," said junior defence minister, Abderrhmane Sbai.

He said conscription had been breeding a "climate of apathy" and had not been meeting "the requirements of professionalism and scientific and technological training".

All Moroccan men have had to undertake a year's compulsory military service. Morocco's 300 000 troops will instead become paid professional servicemen.

Source: IOL, 1 December 2006, i On Global Trends, 2 December 2006