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Democracy Moves Forward In Morocco As Coalition Signs Charter of the Majority

Rabat, Morocco --- December 16, 2011 ... On the evening of December 16, Morocco took another major step toward the forming of the new coalition government. The leaders of the four parties of the Coalition - Abdelillah Benkirane, Abbas El Fassi, Nabil Benabdallah and Mohand Laenser - signed in Rabat the Charter of the Majority.

Benkirane defined the document as a "contract between the components of the next governing majority." After the signing ceremony in Morocco, Benkirane said that with the signing ceremony, the four majority parties committed to "a common Charter and the structure of the new government."

 The Charter of the Majority constitutes a major step forward in Morocco's grappling with the ramifications of the significantly greater authority of the next government as mandated by the new Constitution.

The primary aim is to close ranks within the future ruling coalition. This is a very pertinent issue given the lack of solidarity and homogeneity that had plagued the previous government. The Charter specifies the mutual commitments of the coalition parties. Ultimately, the Charter defines the commitments of the government partners and the political-parliamentary rules of conduct within of the coalition.

The Charter is a framework document defining the relationship between members of the majority, as well as their professional and ethical obligations. The Charter stresses the mutual commitment of the coalition members in Morocco to work in harmony under one leadership and assume all government decisions jointly.

The Charter leads the way to the issuance of the overall the policy statement of the forthcoming government. Toward this end, the four parties formed an eight-member high-level high-power commission that is responsible for developing the government's joint program. Each party designated two senior representatives.

The Justice and Development Party is represented by deputy secretary general Abdallah Baha and Mustapha Al Khalfi, the author of the party's electoral program. The Independence Party is represented by two senior ministers of the current government - Nizar Baraka and Mohamed Saad Alami. The Popular Movement is represented by two politburo members - Abdeslam Maâninou and Lahcen Haddad. The Progress and Socialism Party is represented by two politburo members who are the authors of the party's economic program - Abdel Ahad Fassi Fihri and Abdeslam Saddiki.

The work on both the Charter and the joint program clearly demonstrates the commitment of the Justice and Development Party to genuine cooperation and compromise.

In the opening session of the commission, Abdallah Baha stressed that the commission members "must work on the programs of the four majority parties to not only clear points of convergence but also ensure the rights of all."

In his response, Abdeslam Saddiki called this approach "revolutionary government practice. In the past, the prime minister came with a program." Members of the commission also plan on reaching out to the country's economic sector, social partners and civil society in order to understand their concerns and aspirations, and integrate their proposals into the joint program of the government. 

 Moreover, both the Charter and the government's joint program reiterate the unyielding commitment of all coalition members to sustaining and expanding key social-legal issues such as civil liberties and gender equality. The purpose of this inclusion goes beyond the politically expedient need to allay fears of the Islamists' ascent or provide cover for the decision of the progressive leaders to participate in the government. The primary objective is to provide an authoritative statement in a formal document reiterating the several public assurances by Benkirane that his government "would not affect individual liberties and would not go against the international commitments of Morocco."

Commission members in Morocco continue to work during the weekend and reportedly picked up the pace. In their latest progress report to the four party leaders, they expressed hope to form a government as early as December 20. However, Benkirane stressed that "nothing is certain" and that he would not compromise on the integrity, cohesiveness and unity of the government in order to maintain an artificial time table.

"I cannot confirm anything. But if the government will be formed on Tuesday, December 20, I will be happy," he acknowledged.

Only after the government's joint program is formulated and announced - will commence discussions on the portfolios to be allocated to each of the four parties comprising the next cabinet to govern Morocco.

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