New Morocco Premier Forms Six-Party Coalition to End Deadlock

  • Government’s priorities to include job creation, health
  • El-Othmani named PM-designate by king after Benkirane’s ouster

Morocco’s new prime minister-designate formed a governing coalition, ending a five-month impasse that has paralyzed decision-making and strained the economy.

After barely a week in office, Saaddine El-Otmani of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party told reporters late Saturday that he will lead a coalition of six parties including partners his predecessor, Abdelilah Benkirane, had refused to include. High on the new government’s agenda will be “improving the quality of government services, education, health care, creating job opportunities, and fighting corruption,” El-Otmani said.

Saaddine El-Otmani

Photographer: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images

Benkirane’s inability to form a coalition after October elections produced no clear-cut winner forced King Mohamed VI to take the rare step of intervening to fire him this month. El-Otmani, a former foreign minister, was selected to replace Benkirane two days later.

At least 11 members of the outgoing 39-member cabinet resigned when they were elected to parliament in October. Over the last five months, their positions were mostly vacant, although some were filled on an interim basis by other sitting ministers. Many critical portfolios, including defense, interior and religious affairs, are currently headed by officials unaffiliated with political parties who were handpicked by the monarch.

The failure to seat a government has prevented the passage of a new budget and hampered government programs to counter religious radicalization of the country’s youth, a key challenge across North Africa.

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