RABAT — A 26-year-old man died in central Morocco after setting himself on fire in despair at his situation since being dismissed from the army, a local rights official said Saturday.
“He poured five litres of petrol over himself and set himself alight in the weekly market at Benguerir” on Thursday, Mohammed Hanofi of the Moroccan Human Rights Association told AFP. “He died in hospital.”
It was the first reported death in the country from self-immolation, which has also occurred in neighbouring Algeria and triggered the revolution in Tunisia that overthrow the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The daily Akhbar al-Yaoum named the man as Mourad Raho, 26, while a local website, Rhamna.org, said he was depressed because he had little income since being sacked from the army in July 2010.
There was no official information from the authorities on the incident, the fifth in Morocco in a month, albeit the first fatality. According to the authorities, one victim had psychological problems while another was in a dispute over a legacy.
Demands for political reforms are mounting in Morocco, which shares the same ingredients — unemployment, a large young population and stark economic inequalities — that have triggered unrest elsewhere in the Arab world.
In Algeria a 36-year-old unemployed man and father of six died on Friday after setting himself on fire on January 17 in regional council offices in the east of the country.
His death brought to four the number of Algerians who have died from self-immolation since January while more than a dozen Algerians have set themselves alight.
Last December’s self-immolation by a desperate young street vendor in Tunisia triggered the nation-wide revolt and inspired a similar uprising in Egypt which on Friday ended in the ousting of president Hosni Mubarak.