Hamas chief attends Morocco ruling party conference


Khaled Meshaal, the politburo chief of Hamas, on Saturday attended the opening of the first conference of Morocco’s ruling Party of Justice and Development (PJD) since the moderate Islamists won November polls.

“Khaled Meshaal arrived yesterday evening in Rabat and is participating in the opening of our party conference,” Abdelaali Hamiddine, a party leader, told AFP

More than 2,000 people were present at the start of the congress in Rabat, which took place under the theme of “good governance,” and in the wake of last year’s Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region, bringing regime change to three north African countries.

The PJD won parliamentary elections in November that were called early by King Mohammed VI to pre-empt swelling Arab Spring-inspired protests in Morocco, and its leader, Abdelilah Benkirane, was appointed prime minister in January.

Meshaal, whose Palestinian Islamist movement rules Gaza, flew to Morocco from Tunisia, where he participated in the first home congress in 24 years of the ruling Islamist party there, Ennahda. It had swept to power following the ouster of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

“What has happened in the Arab and Muslim world recently is incredible and it has not finished,” Benkirane told delegates at the opening of the two-day conference.

“The Syrian people are a courageous people. I’m sure, God willing, that it is the Syrian people who will win in the end,” the prime minister added, referring to the 16-month-old conflict which activists say has left more than 17,000 people dead.

Benkirane is expected to be reelected as leader of the party.