Rabat - Amidst a schism in the Istiqlal Party (PI) between supporters and opponents of party leader Hamid Chabat, the two factions are trying to agree upon a date for their next convention.
Rabat – Amidst a schism in the Istiqlal Party (PI) between supporters and opponents of party leader Hamid Chabat, the two factions are trying to agree upon a date for their next convention.
On Friday, Chabat, facing uncertain prospects for reelection in the upcoming congress, met with members of the Executive Committee. Some members of the committee, Istiqlal’s highest policy making body, are supporting his potential rival in the next convention, Nizar Baraka.
Chabat suggested the convention to be held on June 21 or 23, something which the 10 members (out of a total 23 who attended the meeting, including two pro-Baraka members, Hamdi Ould Rachid and Nouredine Moudiane, agreed to.
The convention’s preparatory commission will finalize the date on June 3.
The party’s 17th convention will be marked by intense rivalry between Chabat and Baraka. The current leader has lost support of several key members who are trying to oust him during the next convention.
Opposition to Chabat has mounted not only within the party, but also with the General Union of Moroccan Workers (UGTM), Istiqlal’s affiliated labor union.
On May 21, Chabat and his proponents held an extraordinary convention to allow him to be elected amid concerns over his potential loss of the party’s leadership.
However, police forces intervened to enforce a court decision, issued two days before, declaring the meeting “illegal” as it was contested by an anti-Chabat UGTM wing.If Baraka is elected, it will likely set a new course for Istiqlal after a series of upheavals during Chabat’s mandate.
The party’s controversial Secretary General led Istiqlal in 2013 to withdraw from government led by the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD).
Istiqlal’s former ally became a target of Chabat’s criticism, which often turned counter-productive, especially when he made unfounded allegations of links between PJD’ leader and then-Head of Government, Abdelilah Benkirane, and ISIS and Al Qaeda.
When Chabat was unseated as the city of Fez’s longtime mayor in the municipal elections of 2015, he started gradually re-shifting towards an alliance with PJD.
His endeavors to get his party reintegrated to the government following the 2016 general elections failed when made statements referring to Mauritania as historically part of Morocco, causing tension with the kingdom’s neighbor.