June 6, 2018 / 11:16 PM / 16 days ago

Moroccan minister resigns over consumer boycott move

(This June 6 story was corrected to make clear Daoudi showed sympathy with workers hit by boycott)

RABAT (Reuters) - A Moroccan government minister will resign after coming under pressure for showing sympathy with workers hit by a consumer boycott campaign targeting some of the country’s top brands, his party said on Wednesday.

Governance minister Lahcen Daoudi, of the co-ruling PJD Islamist party, is the first political casualty of the campaign which has forced dairy firm Centrale-Danone, part of France’s Danone, to cut production and lay off workers.

Daoudi showed up on Tuesday night at a sit-in of Centrale-Danone workers calling on consumers to end the boycott, which the government fears will damage the wider economy.

“The participation of brother Lahcen Daoudi in the sit-in in question is unreasonable and inappropriate,” the PJD general secretariat said in a statement issued following an extraordinary meeting chaired by Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani.

The secretariat general added that its members “appreciate that brother Lahcen Daoudi asked to be dismissed from his ministerial responsibility.”

Daoudi did not pick up his phone when Reuters called.

During the sit-in Daoudi had told Reuters that the demands of the workers to stop the boycott were legitimate.

The boycott launched on April 20 is also directed at Afriquia fuel stations owned by billionaire minister Aziz Akhanouch and the Sidi Ali mineral water brand.

Centrale-Danone has said sales have halved since the start of the campaign and it will post a 150 million Moroccan dirham (£14 million) loss in the first half.

It has also said that the campaign prompted it to cut milk it collects from the 120,000 farmers who supply it by 30 percent.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Leslie Adler

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