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Morocco

Moroccan king summons Islamist leader to form government

AFP/Abdelhak Senna

The head of Morocco's Islamist party, Abdelilah Benkirane, is has been summoned by King Mohammed VI to discuss forming a new government, officials of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) announced Tuesday.

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The party came out ahead in Friday’s election, the first since a referendum, that followed a series of demonstrations, approved a new constitution in July.

Under the old constitution the king could choose any prime minister he pleased, but he must now pick a member of the party that won the most votes.

Justice and Development won 107 of the 395 seats in parliament, doubling the number of seats it held in the previous parliament – a result that was “better than we expected”, according to Benikrane.

Fellow-Islamists Ennahda have formed a government in Morocco after winning the most votes in the 23 October election there.

“The regional context worked in out favour,” Mustapha el-Khalfi, who edits the PJD’s paper, Attajdid, said. “But it was also the result of a long and effective campaign.”

The party’s influence spread beyond its already-established base among the urban middle class to rural voters who previously backed local dignitaries close to the government and the monarchy, according to RFI’s Léa-Lisa Westerhoff.

Morocco’s oldest party, Istiqlal, which is led by outgoing prime minister Abbas el Fassi and won 60 seats, has said it is ready to join a coalition, according to Benkirane.

The party campaigned against poverty and corruption and promised to raise the minimum wage.

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