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King of Morocco to appoint a new PM

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The king of Morocco is to appoint a new prime minister after five months of talks on forming a coalition government ended in failure, the royal palace has announced.

Mohammed VI 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 on Wednesday.

Mohammed is expected to name another member of the Islamist Party for Justice and Development (PJD) to replace Abdelilah Benkirane.

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

Under Morocco’s election law no party can win an outright majority in the 395-seat parliament, making coalition governments a necessity in a system where the king still holds ultimate power.

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 centre-right National Rally of Independence (RNI) stalled.

Benkirane’s efforts have met with resistance from parties that critics say are too close to the palace.

Royalist supporters have been reluctant to share power with Islamists since Mohammed ceded some powers in 2011 to ease protests.

The palace says the king maintains the equal distance from all parties and dismisses claims of royal interference.

The PJD was the first Islamist party to win an election in Morocco and the first to lead a government after Mohammed – whose family has ruled Morocco since the early 1600s – gave up some of his power when thousands took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations inspired by the wave of uprisings across the Arab world.

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