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New Islamist Government caters to Moroccan King

After many days of debate, a new government was announced in Morocco last week. But diverging and contradictory analyses concerning the makeup of the government have persisted, while some question the value of a government formed by Islamists who do not really control it.

Islamist parties had promised to reduce the overall number of ministerial portfolios in the government but they were not able to do so, meaning the government now has 31 ministers. They were also unable to stand up to the “veto” by the palace, which refused to divide the interior ministry into two sections.

They accepted last minute deals which dropped certain names and imposed others in negotiations conducted by those loyal to Dar al-Makhzen (the Sultanate Palace).

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party’s (PJD) loss of strategic ministries such as finance, health, and education has fueled predictions that the party’s ability to run the government will be practically paralyzed.

The palace’s strongmen succeeded in imposing their favored nominees on Benkirane – who had to handle difficult negotiations with parties in the governing coalition on one hand, and the regime, on the other – in order to ensure that the outcome would be palatable for both sides.

This is why key ministries were reserved for the king, even though the Moroccan constitution does not stipulate such an arrangement. People who were loyal and obedient to the regime were appointed as ministers under the cloak of being independent technocrats.

They will be the new guardians of the palace, alongside an army of advisers who have been appointed by the king in the last few weeks to finalize the shadow government.

One of those loyal to the regime in the new government is the Director General of National Security, Charki Draiss, whose name was selected at the last minute as a delegate minister in the interior ministry.

Although the interior ministry has gone, for the first time, to a political party member, Mohand Laenser, the regime itself will still supervise important security files through their obedient servant, Draiss.

The same thing will happen at the foreign ministry, which will be headed by the Islamist Saad-Eddine El Othmani, but he will be supported by Youssef Amrani, the delegate minister at the foreign ministry, who will act as the eyes of the palace in this sensitive ministry. read more

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