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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid