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Morocco names new government, ending 6-month deadlock

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/04/2017 By REDA ZAIREG, Associated Press

RABAT, Morocco — Moroccan King Mohammed VI appointed a new coalition government Wednesday, ending six months of deadlock that had stalled the economy.

The government, named in a ceremony in the Rabat royal palace, consists of 39 ministers, state ministers and state secretaries, and includes nine women.

It is headed by Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani, whose moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development won parliamentary elections in October. El Othmani was named last month to end a protracted crisis that had left Morocco, a U.S. ally in North Africa, without a government.

Key defense, security and religious affairs posts were given to people with no party affiliation but who are close to the king.

Some members of the past PJD-led government stayed in the Cabinet such as Economy Minister Mohamed Boussaid. Nasser Bourita, a former delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is the new foreign minister. Mohamed Aujar, former permanent representative of Morocco to the United Nations in Geneva, is the new justice minister.

To form a government coalition, El Othmani forged an alliance with conservative, socialist and pro-market parties. Together, they hold 240 seats in the 395-seat lower house of Parliament.

Some voices rose up in the PJD against the new prime minister's quick deal-making with rival parties, and complained that he didn't consult party leadership about how to distribute the ministerial portfolios. Critics fear that the government was imposed by the royal palace instead of built by the democratically elected parties.

The government will be formally invested by Parliament on April 14.

Parliament, meanwhile, has become a collateral victim of the deadlock. It's been unable to meet normally since the October election or to pass the 2017 budget.

The budget is "the big priority of the moment" once the government is in place, Lahcen Daoudi, vice president of the chamber, told The Associated Press.

Parliament is also expected to study Morocco's efforts to rejoin the African Union, laws about violence against women and other legislation that has been blocked for months.

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