Moroccan king names new PM to break political deadlock

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 17, 2017 at 10:04 a.m.

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RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco's king named a new prime minister Friday, former top diplomat Saadeddine Othmani, after ousting his predecessor over five months of government deadlock.

The royal palace said in a statement that Othmani, a former foreign minister, has been given the responsibility of forming a new government.

Othmani's Islamist party, the Party of Justice and Development, won an election in October but did not win enough votes to govern alone. So far it has failed to persuade rival parties to join it in a new government coalition.

King Mohammed VI holds ultimate power in Morocco but rarely intervenes in politics, and his decision Wednesday to oust previous Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane came as a national surprise. Benkirane was blamed for the failed coalition building.

The lack of a government has threatened to hurt the Moroccan economy and the country's reputation for political stability after years of turmoil in the Arab world.

The ouster was a blow to the PJD, a moderate Islamist party that won an election for the first time in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings. Protests in Morocco prompted the king to hold a referendum on constitutional reforms, granting more power to the elected government.

The past PJD-led government was a coalition of parties from left and right, but tensions have surfaced and Benkirane no longer enjoyed the same broad support.

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