x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Moroccan government threatened by party's withdrawal

Morocco's second largest political party has announced that it is withdrawing from the Islamist-led government.

RABAT // Morocco's second largest political party has announced yesterday that it is withdrawing from the Islamist-led government.

The move by Istiqlal is the first time in Morocco that a party has withdrawn from a ruling coalition. It is now up to King Mohammed VI to decide whether to ask the governing Islamist party to form a new government or hold new elections.

"The party can never remain in a government that continues to pursue policies targeting the buying power of the citizens by raising prices and not listening to our demands for a cabinet reshuffle," said the Istiqlal spokesman Adil Benhamza.

According the party statement on Saturday, the prime minister, Abdelillah Benkirane, of the Islamist Justice and Development Party called the head of Istiqlal and asked him to keep his six ministers in the government for now to ensure it continues to function.

Like the rest of the region, Morocco was swept up by demonstrations in 2011 calling for greater democracy and less corruption. The king moved swiftly to defuse popular anger by amending the constitution to give elected officials greater powers and holding early elections.

The Islamists won the most seats on a platform of reform and fighting corruption - measures they have largely been unable to carry out in the past year because of fighting with coalition partners and an economic crisis brought on by Europe's downturn.