* With Morocco’s new government now in place, key priorities are moving forward on reforms, regionalization, and more than a dozen organic laws needed to realize and codify sections of the 2011 Constitution. *
Jean R. AbiNader
October 11, 2013
Some three months after the Istiqlal Party resigned from the coalition government in Morocco, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) has found a replacement partner, the National Rally of Independents (RNI), to form a new ruling coalition.
It has been rumored for some time that the RNI would join the PJD, the Progress and Socialism Party (PPS), and the Popular Movement (MP), in the government, but it took several months, and an expansion of the ministerial list to 39 from 30 to finally reach Thursday’s announcement.
Much of the government’s business has been at a standstill during the hiatus, despite pressing economic issues that derailed the previous government.
Among the most important changes are the appointment of Salaheddine Mezouar, former Minister of Economy and Finance and head of the RNI, as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
Mbarka Bouaida was named as his deputy, the Minister Delegate of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
Both are well-known internationally and have strong ties to multilateral organizations.
Mr. Mezouar, whose family hails from Meknes, is a long-time political player in Morocco and, as Minister of Finance, was a highly visible presence in promoting Morocco’s financial sector.
Ms. Bouaida is a former parliamentarian who chaired the Foreign Relations Committee. Multilingual and well regarded both in business and in politics, she has been particularly focused on energizing RNI’s outreach to women and youth.
The very important role of Minister of Industry, Commerce, and New Technologies has gone to Moulay Hafid El Alami, 53, an RNI leader who is on the Forbes list of leading businesses in Africa.
He heads Saham, a regional powerhouse in insurance services with operations in 12 countries.
He is well positioned to lead Morocco’s efforts in expanding trade and investment in Africa, which is the top priority for the country’s economic partnerships. Morocco already has more than two dozen free trade agreements, giving Minister El Alami a broad canvas to promote Morocco’s goods and services.
He will be joined by the RNI’s Mohamed Abbou as Minister of Foreign Trade, a position revived in the new cabinet. This team is now responsible for achieving the export and investment goals set by the new government to offset growing budget constraints.
An area in which Morocco is facing a major challenge is workforce development, which includes closing the gap between education output and employment opportunities.
Leading the charge in the new government will be Rachid Benmokhtar, a respected scientist and intellectual, former president of the English language Al-Akhawayn University, and head of the National Observatory for Human Development (ONDH), among other credentials.
He will be the Minister of National Education, a key role for carrying out the reform programs prominently mentioned by King Mohammed VI in his youth day address.
The King pointed out that despite efforts to date, “Nevertheless, we still have a long, arduous journey ahead of us if we are to enable this sector [education and training] to actually play its role as an engine for the achievement of economic and social advancement.”
Six Women in Cabinet-level Positions in New Government
The inclusion of the RNI has helped address a criticism of the previous coalition — the near absence of any women members. Now a total of six women are included in the new cabinet, four of them from the RNI, compared with just one in the previous administration. As importantly, the women occupy senior positions in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Industry and Social Economy; Environment, Water, Energy, and Mines.
Among the many agenda items facing the new government are: economic reforms to deal with subsidies, balance of payments, and debt issues; restructuring of labor policies; adoption of proposed judicial reforms; moving ahead with regionalization/decentralization; and the delivery and quality of social services including health, education, and handicapped transportation and care.
A key priority for the new government is to move ahead on the more than a dozen organic laws that would codify sections of the 2011 Constitution. Some have yet to be drafted or moved out of committee, inhibiting progress on a number of reform initiatives.
* For the full list of cabinet-level members in the new Moroccan government, go to: