The King of Morocco appoints businessman Aziz Akhannouch to lead the new government

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI appointed Aziz Akhannouch of the liberal RNI party as prime minister on Friday and asked him to form a government, state news agency MAP reported.

The king appointed Akhannouch “head of the government and assigned him the task of forming a new government” after Wednesday’s elections, a palace statement said.

RNI emerged as the largest party in Wednesday’s parliamentary elections, winning 102 of 395 seats, while the former largest party, the moderate Islamist PJD, collapsed to take just 13 seats.

Akhannouch, a former agriculture minister, is one of the richest men in Morocco with an estimated fortune of about $ 2 billion. He has led the liberal RNI party since 2016.

Under the reforms introduced in 2011, the king elects the prime minister of the largest party in parliament, but retains veto power over cabinet members. In recent years, it has regained more powers within the palace walls, analysts say.

RNI is seen as close to the royal establishment and Akhannouch said in a speech after the election results were declared that he would “implement Her Majesty’s vision.”

Akhannouch, whose holding company operates in the fuel and gas distribution business, and was the target of a consumer boycott campaign in 2018 over prices, has propelled RNI as a champion of social and economic reforms.

Now he must build a governing coalition that can have a parliamentary majority of at least 198 seats.

The next most important party after Wednesday’s vote was PAM, which is also liberal and pro-system, with 86 seats.

The PJD, whose leader Saad Dine El Otmani had been prime minister since 2017, has complained of election violations, including what it said was vote buying by rivals.

However, after securing only 13 seats compared to 125 in 2016, he has said that he will enter the opposition and will not seek to join the next governing coalition. Otmani and some other high-ranking members have resigned from their positions in the party.

( Jowhar with AFP and REUTERS)

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