Benkirane blames parties for failing to form new Moroccan government
Benkirane is waiting for King’s return from African tour to present list of future government or to declare failure to form government.
A September 2016 file picture shows Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane speaking during a meeting of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) in Rabat. (AFP)
2017/02/26 Issue: 95 Page: 11
The Arab Weekly
Casablanca - Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said he was waiting for King Mohammed VI’s return from an African tour to present the list of the future government or to declare the failure to form a government.
Morocco has been without a government since the king asked Benkirane to form a new government three days after the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) won legislative elections in October. Benkirane led the previous coalition government from 2011-16.
There is no provision in the Moroccan constitution for calling new elections if the designated head of government is unable to form a majority cabinet. The king may, however, dissolve the two houses of parliament by decree.
Benkirane criticised the political parties for failing to form a government to fulfil Moroccans’ aspirations as determined by the October election results.
“It is inconceivable that the king goes to the relief of most of the African people and we are insulting the Moroccan people,” Benkirane said. “This is a humiliation to the Moroccan people. We did not respect their true will and we failed their hope in forming a government.”
The Moroccan monarch is touring several African countries, including Zambia where officials signed several cooperation relations and trade agreements on February 20th.
Local media called Benkirane’s statement on the king’s African policy a declaration to lure Moroccans to take to the streets to protest the failure to form a government.
However, the prime minister said February 20th on the sidelines of a colloquium in parliament that it was unbelievable that “we (political parties) are still stuck in forming a government for four or five months”.
“We must reach a result in the near future in order to fit the image that our king is presenting overseas,” Benkirane said.
Negotiations between the ruling party and the National Rally of Independents (RNI) party headed by Aziz Akhannouch to form a majority government have been stalled since January 17th, after talks between Benkirane and Akhannouch reached an impasse.
Akhannouch is among the official delegation accompanying the king on his African tour.
The RNI conditioned its participation in an Islamist-led government with a bloc including the Constitutional Union (UC), the Popular Movement (MP) and the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) while ruling out any alliance with the Istiqlal Party (PI).
Benkirane refuses to have the USFP in his government but the RNI bloc insists on its participation to strengthen the coalition. The parliament in January elected Habib el-Malki from the USFP as speaker.
USFP leader Driss Lachgar has said that his party’s participation in the next government would serve the best interests of Morocco.
“Abdelilah Benkirane acts more in his capacity as secretary-general of the PJD than in his capacity as the designated head of government,” Lachgar said. “He never expressed his refusal in his capacity as head of government designated by the king.”
The political stalemate is delaying the government’s reform programme and will likely affect the country’s business and investment climate.
The PJD’s official website published extensive coverage of the pro-reform February 20 Movement, which recently marked its sixth anniversary.
“Six years have passed and Moroccans’ main gain from this popular movement was the rehabilitation of political action inside the institutions,” activist Najib Chaouki told pjd.ma.
“The road of change is long. Whoever waits for its instant results has never believed in collective solution.”
The movement was founded during the “Arab spring” protests in 2011, prompting the Moroccan king to make constitutional changes and give up some powers to calm protests demanding change.
Benkirane said King Mohammed VI had positively interacted with the demands of the protest movement.
“The logic of the universe that governs the peoples, in the end, is that it is imperative that they get what they want no matter how long they have been subjected to injustice,” Benkirane said.