Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Morocco gets seven women MPs.

Morocco got a new government on Monday after nearly a month of tough negotiations, with seven women among the 34 ministers - and none from the Islamic party that placed second in parliamentary elections last month.

Longtime Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa was replaced by his deputy, 49-year-old Taieb Fassi Fihri, in the new government - part of a bid to open the door to a new generation.

There were no major surprises among the most sensitive appointments, such as the foreign ministry, traditionally decided by King Mohamed VI. Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa retained his post.

The appointment of seven women ministers - up from two in the previous government - underscored an effort toward modernity in this moderate Muslim kingdom. Morocco in 2004 reformed a repressive family law to increase women's rights.

8 ministers come from Istiqlal

Among women ministers was Nawal el Moutawakil, who won gold in the 400-metre intermediate hurdles at the 1984 Olympics, as sports minister. Amina Benkhadra would head the Energy, Water and Environment Ministry.

Eight ministers were from the secular party Istiqlal of Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, who was named to the post in mid-September, while seven came from the Socialist Union of Popular Forces.

The naming of the new government followed September 07 parliamentary elections in which Istiqlal won 52 of the 325 seats. Notably absent from the cabinet was the Justice and Development Party, an Islamic party that won 46 seats.

El Fassi, who led the delicate negotiations, had made clear after his appointment that the new cabinet would mimic the previous majority, a coalition including Istiqlal and the Socialist Union of Popular Forces - leaving no room for the Islamic party.

The Justice and Development Party had gained strength in recent years, worrying its secular rivals. However, some in the party saw a role in the opposition as more attractive than being part of a majority melting pot.

Morocco's 44-year-old monarch, who took the throne in 1999, had said the new government must work for democratisation and development.

El Fassi said the government reflected efficiency while taking into account regional concerns and a bid to open the door to new faces.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't get easily upset but check out this irresponsible, onesided piece of journalism. Perhaps you guys would be well placed to write a letter to the editor