Moroccan king appoints new cabinet led by moderate Islamists


Morocco's King Mohammed on Tuesday appointed members of a new power-sharing cabinet, the official MAP news agency reported, more than a month after the Nov. 25 elections in which the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party won the biggest share of seats in the parliament.

On Nov. 29, King Mohammed appointed PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane as prime minister-designate after the moderate Islamist party won a Nov. 25 parliamentary election.

The Islamist Justice and Development Party took 11 of 31 cabinet posts, including foreign affairs, justice, and transportation and communication.

The party has long been in the opposition and won the most votes in the election on a platform to combat corruption and bring social justice.

While a new constitution gives the new Prime Minister Benkirane unprecedented powers, the king still holds final veto over any of his decisions.

The king brought forward the election by nearly a year in an effort to pre-empt a popular revolt similar to ones that have rocked the Arab world, toppling four longtime ruling autocrats.

King Mohammed hopes fresh faces at the top of government, and at least the appearance of change, will deflate popular pressure for a more revolutionary transformation inspired by the Arab uprisings.

Benkirane has forged an alliance with two conservative parties close to the monarchy - Istiqlal (Independence), which came second, and the Popular Movement - as well as the smaller left-wing Progress and Socialism Party.

Istiqlal member Nizar Baraka was named Finance and Economy Minister, replacing Salaheddine Mezouar whose party, the National Rally of Independents, opted to go into opposition.

PJD member Mohamed Najib Boulif, who has initially been strongly touted for Baraka's role, was named minister in charge of general affairs and governance, putting him in charge of thorny issues such as reforming the burdensome subsidies system.

Mustafa Ramid, a prominent lawyer and human right activist from PJD who has often been critical of the security services' record, was named Minister of Justice and Public Freedoms.

Bassima Hakkaoui of the PJD took over the social and women's affairs ministry as the only woman in the 31-member cabinet.

Saad-Eddine el-Othmani, another PJD member, was appointed foreign minister while Popular Movement leader Mohand Laenser was appointed interior minister.

A reform program presented by the palace aims to reduce the king's sweeping powers in favor of elected officials in response to protests pressing mainly for a British or Spanish-style constitutional monarchy, an independent judiciary and improved curbs on corruption.

The reforms won overwhelming support in a July 1 referendum but protests have continued. The new charter subjects any government appointment to the king's approval.

The new charter was widely expected to limit interference by the royal court in appointments of personnel in justice, religious affairs, interior, defense, foreign affairs and the general secretariat, a legal adviser to the government.

Non-party figures close to the king were named in charge of defense, the general secretariat, religious affairs and the agriculture and fisheries ministry.

Cabinet members

Abdelilah Benkirane: Head of the Government.

- Abdellah Baha: State Minister.

- Mohand Laenser : Minister of the Interior .

- Saad-Eddine El Othmani: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

- Mustafa Ramid: Minister of Justice and Liberties.

- Ahmed Toufiq: Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs.

- Driss Dahak: Secretary-General of the Govenment.

- Nizar Baraka : Minister of Economics and Finance.

- Nabil Benabdellah: Minister of Housing, Town Planning and Urban Policy.

- Aziz Akhannouch: Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

- Mohamed El Ouafa: Minister of National Education.

- Lahcen Daoudi: Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and
Executive Training

- Mohamed Ouzzine: Minister of Youth and Sports.

- Aziz Rabbah: Minister of Equipment and Transport.

- El Hossein El Ouardi: Minister of Health.

- Mustapha El Khalfi: Minister of Communications, spokesman for the

- Fouad Douiri: Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and the Environment.

- Abdelouahed Souhail: Minister of Labour and Vocational Training.

- Abdelkader Aâmara: Minister of Industry, Trade and New Technologies.

- Lahcen Haddad: Minister of Tourism.

- Bassima Hakkaoui : Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development.

- Mohamed Amine Sbihi : Minister of Culture.

- Abdessamad Qaiouh : Minister of Handicrafts.

- Lahbib Choubani : Minister in charge of Relations with Parliament and Civil

- Abdellatif Loudiyi: Minister Delegate to the Head of the Government in
charge of the Administration of National Defense.

- Abdellatif Maazouz: Minister Delegate to the Head of the Government in Charge of the Moroccans Living Abroad.

- Charki Draiss: Minister Delegate to the Interior Minister.

- Youssef Amrani: Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

- Mohamed Najib Boulif: Minister Delegate to the Head of the Government in charge of General Affairs and Governance.

- Abdelâdim El Guerrouj: Minister Delegate to the Head of the Government in Charge of Civil Service and the Administration Modernization.

- Idriss Azami Al Idrissi: Minister Delegate to the Minister of Economics and Finance in Charge of the Budget.