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Differences emerge within Morocco coalition

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A string of high-profile disagreements is highlighting cracks in the kingdom’s governing coalition.

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 29/04/12

[AFP/Karim Jaafar] Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane is seeking to smooth over differences within his governing alliance.

[AFP/Karim Jaafar] Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane is seeking to smooth over differences within his governing alliance.

Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane met with the cabinet last Tuesday (April 24th) in an effort to resolve disputes among ministers.

The meeting followed a series of public spats between cabinet officials, with ministers engaging in debate through the media.

In one example, the PJD’s justice minister recently said that people from all over the world were coming to Marrakech to sin and distance themselves from God.

Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad of the Popular Movement quickly retorted that he and the head of government were the only officials in a position to speak on tourism.

“The democratic process to which the kingdom is strongly committed involves and guarantees respect for individual freedom and freedom of religion. Tourists visiting our country are only subject to laws which are officially in force, just as they would be in any other country in the world,” the tourism minister noted.

Another heated debate broke out between the PPS and Istiqlal following a decision by the PPS Health Minister El Hossein El Ouardi to curb the powers of his department’s secretary-general, who is from the Istiqlal party.

Elsewhere, comments from the communications minister and government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi regarding a ban on gambling advertisements on the 2M television channel prompted spirited discussions among the governing majority.

Popular Movement Youth and Sports Minister Mohamed Ouzine said that El Khalfi was a government official and not a preacher with a duty to define what was halal and what was haram.

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Such public exchanges reveal the challenges facing Benkirane’s team. Still, the prime minister remains optimistic.

“Differences may emerge between members of a single family,” Benkirane said. “The coming days will confirm the symbiosis which exists within this government as it serves the whole of the Moroccan people.”

Political analyst Hamza Brahim has called on the head of the government to encourage consistency across the majority.

“The PJD’s ministers need to speak out less and get used to their new role as government officials. Co-ordination is essential,” he said.

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