Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

High-tech acting king Andy Serkis on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Read more

REPORTERS

Hong Kong in rebellion against the 'motherland'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza: children caught up in the conflict

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Was the UN chief’s speech in Tel Aviv really a 'shameful message'?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

France concerned about anti-Semitism

Read more

WEB NEWS

Online movement demands peace in Gaza

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Apple aims to satisfy China's hunger for smartphones

Read more

DEBATE

MH17: Punishing Putin? (part two)

Read more

  • UN human rights chief blasts Israel-Gaza ‘war crimes’

    Read more

  • Remains of Flight MH17 victims arrive in the Netherlands

    Read more

  • Bomb attacks kill ‘scores’ in north Nigeria

    Read more

  • Paris braced for new pro-Palestinian rally after clashes

    Read more

  • Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down over rebel-held territory

    Read more

  • TransAsia Airways Taiwan crash leaves dozens dead

    Read more

  • Video: Fear, death and mourning in Gaza’s Khan Younis

    Read more

  • Young riders raise French hopes for Tour de France

    Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with warships sale to Russia

    Read more

  • Kerry arrives in Israel to push for Gaza ceasefire

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

Africa

New Moroccan PM faces uphill struggle with monarchy

Text by Marc DAOU

Latest update : 2011-12-01

Morocco’s new prime minister has displayed his allegiance to the country’s ruling monarchy, raising questions about how he will push through a reform agenda.

Moderate Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane has set a decidedly conciliatory tone with the monarchy, after he was appointed Morocco’s new prime minister by King Mohammed VI on Tuesday. However, as Benkirane began talks to form a new government, there was doubt about his ability to peacefully share power while pushing through promised reforms.

The new prime minister’s Justice and Development Party (PJD), whose victory in the Nov. 25 parliamentary elections owed much to the pro-reform Arab Spring movements, will be the first religious party to lead a government in the North African country.

When demonstrations inspired by the Arab revolts flared in Morocco in February, King Mohamed responded with a package of reforms that included constitutional amendments and an early parliamentary election that took much of the momentum out of the protest movement.

Toning down confrontational rhetoric was a key element of Benkirane’s success in the past, and an attitude he reinforced for the landmark poll. The new prime minister told the press on Tuesday that his exchange with King Mohammed had given him great joy.

“I pray God will help me with the noble mission [the King] has entrusted me with… to meet the oath I took before his majesty today,” Benkirane said.

His latest statements left some observers wondering how ardently Berkirane would pursue his previous promise to lead a government that acts independently of the King’s executive powers.

Previously a boisterous opposition group in parliament, the PJD must now lead a coalition government and work with a monarchy that has ruled Morocco with vast executive powers for the past 50 years.

Future of ‘shadow cabinet’

According to some analysts, Benkiranen’s moderate statements and professed allegiance to the crown is a necessary political calculation.

“Despite his strong character, he knows he has to show his loyalty in order to enter the highest levels of power. He has no choice,” said Khadija Mohsen-Finan, a professor of political science at Paris University VIII.

For Mohsen-Finan, the prime minister’s statements to reassure the monarchy has not cancelled out his intention to exercise new powers that constitutional reforms transferred from the king to parliament in July. In order to secure those powers, Benkirane must avoid confrontations with the King’s entourage.

“Until these elections there has been a shadow cabinet in Morocco, a kind of parallel government made up of the King’s advisors. It’s a structure that many prime ministers have collided with and been stifled by,” Professor Mohsen-Finan explained.

“The question now is whether this problem will stop now that the PJD is in power, or only get worse,” he added.

Shifting political lines

Benkirane’s political maneuvering also faces the risk of clashing with some sections of the PJD, especially in the event that it fails to rebalance Morocco’s system of power. During its decades-long tenure in opposition, the PJD campaigned on a platform of change and reform, including reducing social inequalities and corruption.

According to Mohsen-Finan if power sharing breaks down, Benkirane will face a difficult choice: “Either he stands up to the King and re-joins the opposition on the street, or he stays in power and loses all credibility.”

Another potential hurdle in the power-sharing arrangement is what some observers call the King’s unwillingness to rule alongside religious leaders. The King continues to harbour a profound aversion to the Islamists, according to Moroccan expert Mohamed Darif, interviewed by the Algerian daily Liberté.

However, there may be stronger motivations for the king to make the new relationship with the PJD work. Namely, avoiding the kind of violent revolts that overturned the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

“[The King] was forced to carry out reforms, to call for a new referendum and an early election… Not just the PJD’s but also the king’s actions are being carefully followed on the streets,” said Mohsen-Finan.

Date created : 2011-12-01

  • Morocco

    Moroccan king announces country's next PM

    Read more

  • Morocco

    Moderate Islamist leader to head new government

    Read more

  • Morocco

    Moderate Islamists win Arab Spring-inspired elections

    Read more

COMMENT(S)