Morocco's king replaces PM Benkirane amid post-election deadlock

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2017 6:54 PM

RABAT (Reuters) - Moroccan King Mohammed VI is replacing Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and will ask another member of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) to form a government after five months of post-election deadlock, a statement from the royal cabinet said on Wednesday.

The king took the decision "in the absence of signs that suggest an imminent formation" of a government and due to "his concern about overcoming the current blockage" in political negotiations, the royal statement said. It did not say who he would name to replace Benkirane.

Benkirane had been reappointed after the PJD, which first came to power in 2011, increased its share of the vote in October elections.

But the PJD's relations with a former coalition partner, the conservative Istiqlal party, soured over economic reforms, and talks over formation of a government with the center-right National Rally of Independence (RNI) stalled.

Concern has mounted about the impact of the political impasse on Morocco's economy. This year's budget, which should have been approved by parliament by the end of 2016, cannot be passed until a government is in place.

Benkirane told Reuters he accepted the king's decision.

"This is our king and he came to a decision under the framework of the constitution, which I've always expressed support of," he said.

"I'm going to perform ablution, pray, and continue working on the ground."

(Reporting by Samia Errazouki; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by G Crosse and James Dalgleish)