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The most popular Islamist in Morocco refuses to disappear

Abdelilá Benkirán struggles to follow the command of the Justice and Development Party, although he was deposed by the king of the head of government

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The most popular Islamist in Morocco refuses to disappear

The star of most charismatic politician in Morocco, only one able to summon 20,000 people at a rally, seemed to have turned off in March. That month, King Mohamed VI dismissed Islamist Abdelilá Benkirán as head of acting government and named Saadedín El Otmani, anor Islamist of Justice and Development Party in his place. After his cessation, Benkirán never uttered any criticism of monarch. He gave his deputy act, declared that he would not renew his term as general secretary of party and attenuated his appearances in public. The discreet Otmani agreed to form a coalition government with five or parties-a requirement that Benkirán had rejected for half a year, after winning election-and figure of Benkirán seemed to be diluted in oblivion. But it was just a mirage.

In fact, Benkirán never lost contact with party's bases. And now, country's main Islamist formation must decide wher it wants Benkirán to continue in front of it, for which it is necessary to reform internal statutes. In this internal pulse of PJD Benkirán counts with party youths, very active in social networks, and with many members of direction. Against him he has current head of government, Saadedín Otmani, and five Islamist ministers that integrate coalition government with five or parties.

These five portfolio holders came to meeting of PJD internal regime Committee on Sunday, 15 October, to decide on possible reform of regulation. The ministers did not have a vote in that committee, although it did. And y expressed mselves against Benkirán continuing to command party. Argued, among or reasons, that permanence of Benkirán at head of PJD sends a message of confrontation towards state and royal palate.

The debate, attended by 60 people of whom 50, had very highlights moments. Finally, partisans of Benkirán won by 22 votes against 10. Now, a national Congress of PJD, which will be held between 9 and 10 December, must confirm or revoke that decision. Some analysts consider that PJD is facing most difficult period of its existence and that it can be lethally fractured. Ors believe, simply, that Benkirán destroys. The former head of government is for many militants great victim of Tahakoum [a concept of Moroccan Arabic that designates a power parallel in shadow, a power that does not emanate from ballot boxes]. Benkirán had denounced existence of Tahakoum during campaign with which he won legislative elections a year ago. In fact, every time I mentioned word Tahakoum was pointing towards royal palace.

Benkirán is for many Islamist militants a victim of power associated with royal palace

Abdelali Hamedine, a member of General Secretariat of PJD, believes that re are several reasons for militants "and people" to support Benkirán. "It is militants mselves who have managed to Benkirán change ir minds and decide to follow front of PJD." People see it as voice of people, man who refused to agree with parties that had scarcely been voted. Moreover, coalition Government has made very important mistakes regarding Al's protests, it has been weakened from that crisis. "And that has made Morocco need a character like Benkirán."

Hamedine believes that if Benkirán continues to head party, he will be government's first defender. "Benkirán can give stability to country and monarchy, because he has always been loyal to king." He got many people interested in politics and followed debates of Congress on television. If it becomes a free electron, that will not be good for government or country. "There are people who could fall into extremism."

From outside PJD, not everyone believes in internal divisions of Islamists. David Goeury, political French resident in Morocco and associated with center of analysis Moroccan Tafra, believes that Benkirán tries to become chief of opposition although its party presides in government. "It is a strategy that PJD is very clear and demonstrated on same day that legislatures won, on October 7th, 2016." Hours before official results were known that finally gave him as a winner, Benkirán already made serious accusations against n Minister of Interior [Mohamed Hassad, who had been nominated in post by King Mohamed VI]. Benkirán alerted on a possible manipulation of election outcome by Minister of Interior. And both current prime Minister of PJD, Saadedín Otmani, as five PJD ministers who are now in government, were with Benkirán when he made those serious accusations against minister of Interior.

Goeury affirms all leaders of PJD are united with respect to strategy to follow in long term, from Benkirán to Otmani, passing by five Islamist ministers. "All of m," concludes Goeury, "Come to say: ' We have won elections and are obliged to govern with five or parties." But, in fact, we are only opposition that exists in this country concerning Majkzén [ power of royal palace].

From now on, ball is on roof of PJD and Abdelilá Benkirán.


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