Benkirane blames parties for failing to form new Moroccan government

February 26, 2017
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)

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.

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