Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani agrees to form coalition cabinet, ends political deadlock

March 26, 2017 2:18 pm

’s new Prime Minister (C) gives a press conference in Rabat, on March 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Moroccan Prime Minister Saad
Eddine El Othmani says he has agreed to form a coalition government with
five other parties, breaking nearly six months of post-election
deadlock.

Othmani, from the Islamist Justice and
Development Party (PJD), was appointed as premier last week by Morocco’s
King Mohammed VI. He replaced PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane, whose
efforts to form a government following October’s elections had been
frustrated.

“The next steps will be deciding on
government structure and ministerial appointments,” Othmani told
reporters on Saturday, surrounded by the leaders of the five other
parties. “We need to move beyond previous obstacles.”

Othmani
said the government’s priorities would include reinforcing stability,
justice reform, education, rural development and energy. Before
Othmani’s appointment, negotiations had stalled largely over the
insistence by the National Rally of Independents (RNI) party on
including the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) in a coalition.
Both
parties are among those now expected to form a new government. The
other parties are the Popular Movement (MP), the Party of Progress and
Socialism (PPS), and the Constitutional Union (UC).
The inclusion
of four smaller parties alongside the RNI is seen as weakening the PJD’s
position, which analysts said was why Benkirane had resisted such an
outcome.

Morocco’s
Secretary General of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) and
former prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, arrives for a meeting of
the Justice and Development Party (PJD) in Salé on March 18, 2017.
(Photo by AFP)The PJD came to power in 2011,
when King Mohammed ceded some powers to ease “Arab Spring” protests.
Morocco has since presented itself as a model for economic stability and
gradual reform in a region troubled by conflict and political turmoil.
Last
year’s election campaign was marked by tensions between the PJD and a
resurgent royal establishment, though the PJD retained its position as
the largest party, increasing its number of seats to 125.
But
Benkirane’s efforts to form a coalition met with opposition from other
parties that critics say are too close to the palace. The RNI, which has
37 seats in parliament, is led by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
Aziz Akhannouch, a close friend of the king.
The deadlock led to
concerns that public spending was being put at risk, and delays to
economic reform. After the king’s replacement of Benkirane, a
charismatic figure popular with the PJD base, the party’s potential
partners quickly expressed optimism that a coalition could be formed.
Under
Morocco’s election law no party can win an outright majority in the
395-seat parliament, making coalition governments necessary in a system
where the king holds ultimate power.
The Authenticity and
Modernity Party (PAM), the second largest in parliament, has said
publicly that it intends to remain in opposition. The conservative
Istiqlal party, which was in coalition with the PJD from 2012-2013
before relations soured over economic reform, is also expected to be in
opposition.

Tags:
shared on wplocker.com