Washington DC - While the Moroccan public believes that many of the decision-making powers remain in the hands of the Makhzen (a multiplicity of official institutions that govern Morocco), citizens were hoping to see Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani and his ministers heavily involved in managing the crisis in the Rif. It is the responsibility of the head of government to answer to the people during periods of social upheaval. For now, key ministers remain missing in action!
Washington DC – While the Moroccan public believes that many of the decision-making powers remain in the hands of the Makhzen (a multiplicity of official institutions that govern Morocco), citizens were hoping to see Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani and his ministers heavily involved in managing the crisis in the Rif. It is the responsibility of the head of government to answer to the people during periods of social upheaval. For now, key ministers remain missing in action!
The current government growing political irrelevance and the absence of competent policy experts in the midst of the group in charge of handling the troubles in the Rif region are inflicting long-term damage to Morocco’s image overseas and jolting the foundation of the 2011 constitution.
Even though it was clear that PM El Othmani was not involved in the decision to deal with the marches in the north as a security matter, he and his team should have had a managerial role in the early stages of the manifestations.
If the relationship between the government and the Makhzen had been awkward in the past, it grew into a clumsy mess in the aftermath of the Rif’s protests. After all, what is the need for a government if its head cannot address protesters ‘needs, formulate strategies and discuss the ramifications of security and political decisions on social peace in the country?
The government’s long absence from the political and media scene during the first few weeks of the Hirak, made it immaterial and inconsequential. The Prime Minister’s reticence made his Offices pointless.
In fact, the Rif Hirak (Moroccan name for political protest) has exposed the limitations of the El Othmani and his government and has proved many of his detractors correct. He is too timid and low key to run a government in the midst of a social crisis. For independent observers, El Othmani is too submissive to the demands and instructions of some strong elements within the Makhzen establishment.
The PM performance is not the only disappointment, the Minister of Human Rights Mr. Mustapha Ramid’s silence and apathy is a big letdown. The former Minister of Justice and current leader in the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) is well positioned to play a role in formulating a response to the social troubles in the country and yet he chose to remain mute.
El Othmani’s performance, or lack thereof, has shown Moroccans the worthlessness of a government formed to deliberate and pass purely bureaucratic bills and polices rather than tackle deeper issues like social injustice, judicial reforms and corruption.
The manner by which Mr. El Othmani came to power is not helping his case either. Many Moroccans believe that he was shoved into the premiership in a coup arranged by powerful elements outside the PJD. These officials, who did not appreciate former prime minister and former head of the PJD Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane’s frankness and bluntness in addressing corruption and cronyism, deposed the latter for El Othmani.
There is a sense of melancholy at the loss of Benkirane as Prime Minister. The former PM had a flair in addressing public fury with diplomacy and discretion. During his years in power, he navigated several political storms with great skills, and thus rendered undeniable service to the state.
Today Morocco needs a government that has a popular base, the ability to communicate with the people, absorb their pains and worries and deliver real reforms. The current one is inept to produce any of these key demands. May be it is time for team El Othmani to resign?
Moroccans are not looking for a politician who will lock horns with the Makhzen. They are longing for a strong figure who can execute the role of prime minster while enduring pressure form powerful political elements who are fighting change from within.
The government is not in “chaos” or in a terribly condition. It is rather mute, immobile and irrelevant. The Moroccan public do not see a need or a role of an invisible government; in fact, The Rif protests may have put the last nail in El Othmani team’s coffin.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.