Six parties to join new Moroccan coalition
Othmani’s decision to include the USFP in the government could divide the Islamist party.
Comfortable majority. Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani (C) gives a news conference next to Aziz Akhannouch, president of the National Rally of Independents (RNI) (L), Mohamed Nabil Benabdallah, president of the Progress and Socialism party (PPS) (R2), and Mohammed Sajid, president of the Constitutional Union (UC) (R). (Reuters)
2017/04/02 Issue: 100 Page: 11
The Arab Weekly
Casablanca - Newly appointed Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani included the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) in his coalition government, ending a 5-month stalemate brought about by his predecessor, Abdelilah Benkirane, who had refused to give in to the party.
Othmani said six parties would form the coalition government: The ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), the National Rally of Independents (RNI), the Constitutional Union (UC), the Popular Movement (MP), the USFP and the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS).
The PJD-led coalition will give the government a comfortable majority of 240 seats out of 395 in parliament. The Islamist party won 125 seats in the Moroccan House of Representatives in October’s elections but needed a coalition to form a government. Benkirane was ousted by Moroccan King Mohammed VI after failing to pull together enough support to that end.
Othmani’s decision to include the USFP in the government could divide the Islamist party. Many PJD MPs warned Othmani they would challenge him in parliament over any government programme that failed to respect the continuity initiated by Benkirane, the Moroccan daily Assabah reported.
The parliamentarians claim that the voters, who re-elected the PJD as the leading Moroccan political party, consider the programme and the reforms initiated by Benkirane to be “a red line that no one should question”.
“Benkirane has made huge sacrifices that even led him to lose his [position as prime minister],” PJD MP Amina Maelainine was quoted as saying.
She said Othmani should not backtrack on issues such as parity and equality.
Negotiations with the RNI, led by billionaire and Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch, ended January 17th after Benkirane refused Akhannouch’s condition to include the USFP in the government.
“If you see this government formed with the USFP, I’m not Abdelilah,” Benkirane told the national council of the PJD youth March 11th prior to his dismissal.
“The USFP has blocked an entire country for five months for one or two ministerial posts. Under these conditions, it is not possible,” he said.
Mohamed Yatim, head of the PJD union, called on the Islamist party’s officials to “oppose the evil militias who are sacrificing Benkirane”.
Akhbar Al Yaoum, a Moroccan daily close to the PJD, reported that the USFP leader could create a new deadlock by demanding to head four ministries, including making USFP leader Driss Lachgar the Justice minister.
Moroccans expressed divided opinions on social media after the announcement of their next coalition government.
“30 ministers! O God this is haram. China, the country of 1.5 billion people, has 18 ministers. Switzerland, the richest country in the world, has eight ministers,” wrote Mhamed Elmoubarik on Facebook.
Karimi Taher replied that the grand plan was to fight political Islam.
“The answer is not the satisfaction or not… The answer is the pragmatism of the party (PJD) and the maturity of its general secretariat and making the right decisions in the difficult circumstances and from my point of view they have succeeded and thank God,” wrote Nahima Jadi on Facebook. “Reform is a long and difficult road and requires patience and weighing things according to political circumstances”.