Moroccan king unveils Islamist gov’t
Moroccan King Mohammed (C) and PM Benkirane (R) pose for a family picture. AFP photoMorocco’s King Mohammed VI on Jan. 3 named a new government dominated by moderate Islamists who won polls the monarch called early to abort protests inspired by the Arab Spring.
The prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, whose moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) took the most seats in the Nov. 25 parliamentary elections, will lead a broad coalition. Benkirane’s movement allied with three other parties close to the palace, and the king still retains veto powers over most decisions, Agence France-Presse reported. Four other posts were directly appointed by the palace, including religious affairs. Both the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry have also been assigned “minister delegates,” with ties to the palace that may challenge the power of the ministers. For instance, Saadeddin al-Othmani, the number 2 of the PJD and the new foreign minister, will have to contend with minister-delegate Youssef Amrani, who was a top assistant to the previous minister.
Abdullah Baha, a top advisor to the new prime minister, dismissed concerns about these new posts. “It is us who wanted him there,” he told the Associated Press. Baha did admit, however, that part of the six week delay in forming the government was because the palace objected to the appointment as justice minister of party firebrand Mustapha Ramid, known for his anti-U.S. rhetoric and defense of terror suspects in court cases.