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Morocco's Islamist Opposition Expects Victory in Friday Election


Moroccans go to the polls Friday in elections that could see opposition Islamists emerge as the kingdom's largest parliamentary party.

The Justice and Development Party (PJD) has vowed to fight government corruption - a pledge that is popular with poor Moroccans who resent what they perceive to be ruling elitists.

The moderate Islamist group says it hopes to become the largest party in parliament's 325-seat lower house by boosting its current tally of 42 seats.

But, Morocco's complex voting system prevents any of its 33 competing parties from winning an outright majority.

PJD leader Saad Eddine Othmani says his group opposes Islamic extremism and supports Morocco's King Mohamed, who is the head of state and the military.

The Islamists also have campaigned to improve morality in the north African country, which is home to popular tourist resorts and bars. Many Moroccan women also do not wear Islamic headscarves.

Morocco's outgoing government has highlighted its five-year record of building roads and ports, improving public housing, boosting the rights of married women and other reforms.

Observers in Morocco expect the outgoing government to invite the Islamists to join a coalition if the PJD wins the most seats. But, they say King Mohamed is unlikely to ask PJD leader Othmani to serve as prime minister.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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