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Moroccan king tasks prime minister to form new government



This handout picture released on July 30, 2016 shows Moroccan King Mohammed VI giving a speech next to his brother Prince Moulay Rachid (L) in Tetouan in northern Morocco. (Photo via AFP)

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has named Abdelilah Benkirane for his second term as prime minister and ordered him to form a new government.

The order came after Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party (PJD) emerged victorious in the last week’s parliamentary elections.

The PJD managed to secure 125 seats out of the total 395 seats of the parliament in Friday’s election, defeating the liberal Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), which could grab only 122 seats.

Although Benkirane’s PJD took most of the seats, it fell short of securing the absolute majority, which is at least 198 seats.

Hence, the group must enter into alliance with 73 lawmakers of other parties to in an attempt to become legally capable of forming a new government.

Friday’s polls also revealed a significant progress for PAM, which had grabbed only 47 seats in 2011 election, and a short leap for the PJD, that had secured 107 seats five years ago.

Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane (C) thanks his supporters outside his house in Rabat on October 8, 2016 after his PJD party won parliamentary elections. (Photo by AFP)

The 62-year-old Benkirane said he will hold consultations with the political parties “very soon in order to form the government and I hope that we will all be successful.”

His party assumed power in 2011, months after widespread street protests forced the king to succumb to protesters’ demands.

The king, whose dynasty has ruled Morocco for the last 350 years, holds real power, but a new constitution handed over some of his powers to parliament. He, however, chooses the premier from the biggest party in parliament.

While in the government, the PJD-led legislature passed a controversial reform law of the retirement system and followed a relatively liberal economic policy amid a global economic depression and a drought that hit Morocco’s vital agricultural sector early this year.

In 1984, King Mohammed’s father, King Hassan II, pulled the country out of the African Union over the decision to accept the independence of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a formal member.

The incumbent king sent a message to the leaders of the union in July to rejoin the bloc after more than three decades but failed to secure his country’s place in the union.

Last month, the African Union said that it had received another request from Rabat to rejoin the 54-member body.

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