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Morocco: New Government Begins Work On Reforms, Enhanced Democracy

 By Morocco News Agency Staff

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Rabat, Morocco --- January 10, 2012 ... After a weekend of well-earned relaxation, the members of Morocco's new government are starting to work.

There are huge expectations at the grassroots which the new government in Morocco must now meet. For about two thirds of the cabinet ministers and minister delegates this is their first experience in government. Most of them have managerial and or academic expertise in the issues handled by their respective ministries. However, they lack the political experience which can be a huge benefit for launching reforms and enhancing democracy, but also a hindrance in getting programs implemented by the multi-layered government and regional bureaucracies.

Morocco Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane is convinced that the cabinet's commitment to reform and democracy should override all other considerations.

"This new government has a true will for reform and we will keep all the promises we made," he said.

The crux of the reform process is the restoration of the public's meaningful participation and trust in the governance process. Meeting with leading politicians in Rabat, Benkirane stressed: "the new government's foremost priority is to restore the citizens' trust in the public authorities, foster the culture of dialogue among the various constituents of society and pay special attention to the vulnerable social segments."

Benkirane and his leading ministers already began articulating their government's initial goals.

They reiterated that the main challenges facing the new government in Morocco are a confluence of addressing domestic needs such as providing for employment and social protection, and meeting the national fiscal challenges by controlling public expenditures, the national deficit and developing new forms of financing the budget. 

"Issues relating to employment, social protection and the promotion of the national economy represent the main concerns of the new government," explained Minister of Economy and Finance Nizar Baraka.

At the same time, he stressed, "a series of new measures will be undertaken at the financial, economic and social levels in order to enable the new government to carry out its priority programs."

Industry, Trade and New Technologies Minister Abdelkader Aamara also foresees the imperative of greater national cohesion in order to meet the development challenges within a reasonable budget.
He considers the main challenges facing his ministry to be "how to continue the various initiated projects, and more cohesion and mobilization of all stakeholders in a participatory manner in order to meet the challenges of development and competitiveness."

Although Benkirane effectively outlined the program of his government and articulated the guidelines for its policy - he now has to follow the formal process as stipulated by Article 88 of the Moroccan Constitution before the new government can actually govern.

Under Article 88 of the Constitution, the first official act of the Prime Minister in Morocco is presenting the detailed government statement to both Houses of Parliament. Subsequently, Benkirane will have to request in writing from the Speaker of the House of Representatives Karim Ghellab to determine the date of submission of the final government statement to Parliament for a formal vote of confidence. Only then can the government start working legally.

According to officials in Morocco, this formal process and vote of confidence will be completed within a week or so. Then, the traditional 100 days of grace will begin. Benkirane assured the leading politicians that he intends to use these 100 days of grace in order to introduce "100 steps" that would lead to the speedy implementation of the promised policies. Benkirane hopes to win the confidence of the Moroccan public through these initial steps.

Meanwhile, King Mohammed VI continues to maintain his tight grip on the new government and particularly regarding issues of great importance to Morocco's foreign allies. Western senior diplomats in Rabat note that all the defense, security and financial portfolios remain in the hands of royalists.

Moreover, the Minister Delegates in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Interior - Youssef Amrani and Charki Draiss respectively - are two highly experienced expert senior officials who rose up in the ranks of the establishment and not the political world. They are likely to ensure continuity and pragmatism. As well, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Aziz Akhannouch retains his position from the previous government. Having resigned from his party - the royalist RNI - in order to retain his portfolio, he is now considered a technocrat appointment. Akhannouch's is an extremely pragmatic and important nomination given the complexities of the current crisis negotiations between Morocco and the EU over fishery rights and agriculture export issues.

Driss Dahak retained his post in Morocco as Government Secretary-General.

"The post was given to Driss Dahak in order to block the advancement of legislation proposed either by Parliament or the Government and opposed by the King," noted leading Moroccan politicians in Rabat.

"The King did not lose any control," concluded Western senior diplomats.

"The King wants Benkirane to succeed, but not at the expense of harming the Kingdom."

Morocco's closest allies in Europe and the United States are extremely happy with this balance of powers in Rabat.  

 

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