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As World Celebrates Christmas, Morocco Embraces Democracy, Coalition Forms

 By Morocco News Agency Staff

Rabat, Morocco --- December 25, 2011 ... On Saturday morning, December 24, Morocco’s Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane announced that major progress had been achieved in the coalition negotiations and that the specific ministerial portfolios to be allocated to the coalition’s four parties would be unveiled within the next couple of days.

“The question of allocation of portfolios should be resolved in one or two days,” Benkirane said. 

The new Prime Minister of Morocco said that he expects the pace of negotiations to accelerate because “things are more clear” for the other three coalition parties. He plans to soon name “the eligible candidates for the portfolios” for the next government. 

Benkirane expects to complete the composition of the new cabinet in Morocco in “the coming days.” Benkirane stressed that the leaders of the four parties were tackling the final touches to the government’s ministerial team. “The announcement of the new government is expected soon,” he concluded.

As expected by analysts, the coalition and government forming negotiations are proving more challenging and complex than originally anticipated by the leaders of the four coalition parties. While the key policy issues in Morocco have been agreed to and common approaches were agreed upon - inner-party squabbling continues within the leaderships of the four parties. Aspirant individuals are pulling strings to reach higher positions on the basis of their party-political past rather than professional qualifications for ministerial positions. Benkirane, however, warned all party leaders that candidate ministers must be nominated on the basis of their expertise and professional capabilities.

According to a senior official of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), the party’s leadership comprehends the position of the designated prime minister. 

“Abdelilah Benkirane wants a strong government, composed of real skills and effective democracy. The PJD knows that there are enormous challenges ahead, and many expectations to be met. All this can only be possible if the proposed ministers are effective,” the official explained. This focus on the expertise and quality of candidate ministers inevitably results in the emergence of inner-party pressure-groups that must be tackled, addressed and resolved.

The situation is not different in the other coalition parties. Abbas El Fassi, Nabil Benabdallah and Mohand Laenser are known to be under pressure to follow more narrow partisan calculations rather than performance criteria. Most of the criticism is directed at the venerable Istiqlal Party because of its inability to disengage from its die-hard old habits. “Patronage, regionalism, favoritism: they are the only criteria that match the choices made by El Fassi,” complained one of the party’s young educated leaders.

All the members of the eight-member high-level high-power commission responsible for developing the government’s joint program in Morocco are cognizant of the magnitude of the challenge. “Consequently, we have to decide, resolve and arbitrate. The task promises to be painful,” noted a senior politician from one of the coalition parties. 

The politician believes Benkirane must have realized that he had committed to the completion of a government “too fast and too soon” and must now adjust his time-tables pragmatically. Benkirane will now work closely with all leaders of the coalition to negotiate the final composition of the government. 

“Negotiations will be sharper on the distribution of portfolios. This is always difficult to do - all the more so if four concessions are required,” the senior politician observed.

Ultimately, senior leaders and politicians of all the coalition parties are in agreement that the main hurdles concerning the composition of Morocco’s next government have been successfully overcome. 

Resolving the outstanding differences is only a question of time. Since all four parties committed to the success of the new Benkirane-led government and the implementation of the new Constitution - their respective leaders and senior members will rise to the occasion and will make the necessary adjustments to expedite the completion of the coalition negotiations. 

Whether it will take the “one or two days” Benkirane predicted or a bit longer is a different matter though.

The Morocco News Agency takes this opportunity to wish all of its Christian readers a healthy, peaceful and Merry Christmas. May we all celebrate life with respect, tolerance and understanding for one another.

"Let there be no compulsion in Religion." (Sura 2:257).



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