In Morocco, Pressure Increases For Benkirane To Form Government
By Morocco News Agency Staff
Rabat, Morocco --- December 28, 2011 ... As anticipated, the recently appointed Prime Minister of Morocco, Abdelillah Benkirane and his coalition partners - Abbas El Fassi, Nabil Benabdallah and Mohand Laenser - are discovering the complexities and length of meaningful, democratic, coalition and government forming negotiations.
Although their reaching of agreement on joint policies toward the key economic and democratic issues facing Morocco was indeed the main and most important challenge to be met, addressing and resolving the precise personnel issues are far more multi-faceted and thus lengthy undertakings. And herein the Moroccan coalition negotiations are snarled.
There is some unease in political Rabat about the prolonging of the process. Observers point out that Benkiran repeatedly expected the government composition process to be completed “soon” and so informed the media.
A month after the November 25 parliamentary elections, political observers in Morocco are beginning to lose patience.
At the same time, tension begins to appear among senior politicians of the four coalition parties. The aggregate impact of the unknown and the lingering personal feuds over positions and nominations is beginning to show.
Passed-over politicians, particularly veteran local-region politicians, who had resigned to being left out of the government, are increasingly using the overall impasse to pull strings and rely on personal connections in order to make last ditch attempts to improve their lot and perhaps still get a nomination. These individual efforts further tarnish the protracted government forming process.
However, the most recent negotiations rounds in Rabat were not futile. The negotiators made significant progress in finalizing the structure of the Benkirane government. Presently, Morocco’s next government is expected to have 27 or 28 ministers instead of the 29-30 ministers originally envisaged by Benkirane.
Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party will have ten or eleven portfolios, the Independence Party will have six portfolios, and both the Popular Movement and the Progress and Socialism Party will each have four portfolios. In addition, the Government will include three “ministries of sovereignty” - the Secretariat General of the Government (SGG), the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs - that will be run by individuals of impeccable professional credentials rather than political affiliation.
Ultimately, Benkirane is also coming under pressure from legal developments.
Last Friday, December 23rd, eleven ministers of the outgoing government submitted their resignation to the King in order not to lose their parliamentary mandate as elected Members of the next Parliament. Law in Morocco stipulates that such resignation must be submitted within a month after the parliamentary elections.
Driss Dahak, the current SGG, formally contacted these ministers and asked them to submit their resignation letters to the King, and the ministers were quick to follow Dahak’s instructions. This means, however, that in the absence of a new government - there are no substitute ministers for these portfolios and deputies and senior bureaucrats now act as de-facto interim ministers. This development only increases the pressure on Benkirane to complete the composition of his government.