News / Middle East

Morocco's King Names New Ministers, Islamists Lose Ground

King Mohammed (R) of Morocco greets an unidentified person as he is welcomed by Mali's new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (C) at the Bamako-Senou International Airport September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon (MALI - Tags: POLITICS ROYALS) - RTX13QN
King Mohammed (R) of Morocco greets an unidentified person as he is welcomed by Mali's new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (C) at the Bamako-Senou International Airport September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon (MALI - Tags: POLITICS ROYALS) - RTX13QN
Reuters
Morocco's King Mohamed named 19 new ministers on Thursday after the prime minister reached a deal to form a new coalition that weakens the ruling Islamists, who are trying to push through unpopular reforms to subsidies and the pensions system.

The center-right National Rally of Independents [RNI], which is close to the palace, will replace ministers from the conservative Istiqlal party, which left the coalition in July in a dispute over the cuts and other issues.

The king increased the number of ministers to 39 from 30 to satisfy the four parties in the coalition, but placed his allies in key ministries, such as interior, finance and foreign affairs.

He also replaced General Affairs Minister Najib Boulif, who was in charge of the reforms for Prime Minister Abdelillah Benkirane's Islamist Justice and Development party [PJD], with Mohamed El Ouafa, who was Istiqlal education minister and refused to quit with his colleagues in July.

“It is obvious that the palace is taking the control of sensitive reforms such as the subsidies,” said Najib Akesbi, an economist from the Argonomy Institute in Rabat. “I call it the government of His Majesty, not the Islamist government any more.”

The PJD came to power after constitutional reforms and early elections in 2011 that were proposed by the king to stifle Arab Spring-inspired protests that called for a fully elected government.

Although the cuts in subsidies and a hike in energy prices have been recommended by the IMF to help shore up the public finances - suggesting they should be replaced by direct aid to the poorest - the royal elite is worried their implementation could trigger more unrest.

Ultimate authority

There have been almost daily protests in the capital Rabat by groups of unemployed graduates, but in the past weeks they have gained support from the opposition Islamist Justice and Spirituality group.

While the constitution gives the government more power, the king still retains the ultimate authority in the North African kingdom and the PJD's new partner, the RNI, is allied to a palace ill at ease at sharing power with Islamists.

It was created in the 1970s by the king's father Hassan II to counter leftist opposition. It has the third largest number of seats in parliament, with 52 members in the lower house, and 39 counselors in the second chamber.

While RNI was in negotiations with Benkirane to form the coalition, ending months of deadlock, it criticized the government's decision to raise energy prices and cut subsidies - suggesting it, like Istiqlal, will try to obstruct the reforms.

The PJD, which has 107 seats in parliament, must work with other parties such as RNI, because of the law organizing elections does not allow one party to take full control. It is also sharing power with the Popular movement, and the Socialism and Progress Party that were both in the previous coalition.

Mohamed Hassad, a technocrat and the head of the Tangier Port Authority, was named interior minister, while Salaheddine Mezouar, the RNI leader, became foreign minister.

Mohamed Boussaid, a former RNI minister and governor of Casablanca city, took the Finance Ministry post.

“The alliance with the RNI is another blow for the PJD's credibility and reputation,” said Maati Monjib, a political historian from Rabat University.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs