Aziz Akhannouch begins consultations with other Moroccan political leaders to form government

The Islamists of the PJD and the communists of the PPS move to the opposition
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AFP/FADEL SENNA  -   The president of Morocco's National Rally of Independents (RNI), Aziz Akhannouch, speaks during a press conference in the capital Rabat after his party came first in parliamentary and local elections on 9 September 2021.

Aziz Akhannouch was the main winner of Morocco's last elections. His political party, the National Rally of Independents (RNI), won 102 seats, making it the most voted party in the elections. Shortly after Akhannouch's victory, King Mohammed VI appointed him president of the government, tasking him with forming the country's future executive. In order to create a new cabinet, the Moroccan tycoon will need allies among the other political parties to achieve the 198 seats needed for an absolute majority.

Akhannouch has been quick to initiate dialogue with other political leaders. Monday's meeting with Abdelatif Ouahbi, secretary general of the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), began the round of consultations to form a government. The centre-left party was the second most voted party with 86 seats.

Ouahbi, who travelled to the RNI headquarters in Rabat for talks with Akhannouch, said after the meeting that the two had exchanged ideas on the possibility of forming a coalition government. The PAM leader said he had received "positive signals" from the new president.  "We will try to devise a common vision for the future," Ouhabi said, assuring that the dialogue would continue. "Things will go in the right direction," he added. The centre-left leader also used the meeting to congratulate Akhannouch on his tenure and wish him success, reports Moroccan media Bladi. 

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - Moroccam Abdellatif Ouahbi, president of the Authenticity and Modernity party, casts his ballot on 8 September 2021 in Rabat as Moroccans vote in parliamentary and local elections.

Akhannouch later met with Driss Lachgar, president of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP). The USFP won 35 seats in the last elections, coming in fourth place behind the nationalist Istiqlal (PI) party.

After the meeting, Lachgar told the press that the meeting was an opportunity to engage in "preliminary consultations on our perception of the situation at the national and international level, and on what concerns the Moroccan people and our country in this delicate situation".

The socialist politician added that the dialogue between the two is also an "opportunity to highlight the efforts made by the RNI and the USFP, in accordance with the High Royal Guidelines, to serve the country". Lachgar stressed that his party "is always ready to give more to achieve the success of the Kingdom's new development project". Like Ouhabi, he also congratulated the new head of government.

The Islamists' few seats do not allow them to lead the opposition

Akhannouch plans to meet with other leaders, such as Nizar Baraka of Istiqlal. However, the Islamists of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), who have already announced that they will join the opposition, will not be present at the government talks. The Progress and Socialism Party (PPS) has also declared that it will not join the consultations and, together with the PJD, will be in opposition. However, the PPS will be in the lead against the future administration, winning 21 seats to the PJD's 13.

The Islamists were the main losers in the parliamentary elections, losing 90 per cent of their seats. They also suffered a major blow in the municipal elections, as they no longer govern in the main cities they used to lead.

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PHOTO/ UNTV via AP - Saad-Eddine El Othmani, former Prime Minister of Morocco
Akhannouch retires from business to focus on politics

The new prime minister has announced that he will step down from his company, Acwa Group, an oil and gas company. The company is also active in tourism and telecommunications.

Akhannouch decided to "dissociate himself completely, including from activities related exclusively to the acquisition of shares and the management of securities, despite the fact that there is no legal restriction", according to a statement. The text also adds that he will devote himself "entirely to the new functions to which he was appointed by the Sovereign".

During his time as agriculture minister, Akhannouch also resigned from his corporate job. He has also claimed not to have received a salary for the political post. 

International community welcomes Morocco's "successful democratic exercise"

Several international diplomatic delegations have praised the conduct of the Moroccan elections as a "successful democratic exercise".

The US Embassy in Rabat congratulated the Arab country on the smooth organisation of the three elections. "Our joint commitment to the democratic process reinforces our 200 year partnership," the US embassy wrote on Twitter.

The British delegation in Morocco, which participated as an observer on election day, said it was ready to work with the next government to "deepen the historic ties between the two kingdoms"

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​PHOTO/AFP - Aziz Akhannouch (L), prime minister-designate and head of Morocco's National Rally of Independents (RNI), greets Driss Lachgar, head of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces party, before a meeting in the capital Rabat on 13 September 2021.

"Despite the difficult health situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, our Moroccan friends managed to hold a fair and transparent election campaign," the Russian Embassy wrote on its Twitter account.

Other countries such as Italy, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the Philippines joined in congratulating Morocco on the conduct of the elections, which saw a high turnout, especially in the southern regions