On Sunday afternoon, the PI issued a statement declaring that the election to choose the party’s leader for the next five years would be rescheduled for next Saturday. The convention’s presidency justified the change by saying that “mistakes” had been found in the list of national council members due to cast their vote.
Chabat: Over My Dead Body
The embattled current leader, Hamid Chabat, has refused to throw in the towel despite losing the support of the party’s leadership. His rival, former finance minister Nizar Baraka, has instead been chosen as the favorite to win the race.
In recent months, Chabat saw key party supporters walk away from him one by one, but he still seems convinced of his chances to win a second mandate as Istiqlal’s Secretary General.
During the convention, Chabat appeared at ease, smiling to cameras and warmly greeting his rival. He told the press that he still could win the election.
The public image of a self-assured leader that Chabat has attempted to cultivate stands in contrast with that given to him by his detractors, who accuse him of being behind the violence that erupted over the weekend.
The former mayor of Fez still has loyalists whom he could use to sabotage the convention, his opponents say.
Speaking to different media outlets on the condition of anonymity, many detractors said he incited his “troops” to turn the event into chaos. His opponents suggested that Chabat, seeing that he can’t win the election, is seeking to derail the convention.
However, violence emerged from both sides during the weekend clashes, when Chabat’s supporters came to blow with those loyal to Hamdi Ould Rachid, an increasingly-influential Sahrawi member and a main backer of Baraka.
False Image of Unity?
In spite of the troubling scenes of convention attendants throwing plates and chairs at one another, which were widely shared and ridiculed on social media, the party is still trying to spread an image of unity.
Al Alam, Istiqlal’s online mouthpiece, published an article summarizing a paper by convention’s president, Nouredine Mediane, in which he said the meeting was marked “by a sense of responsibility and true patriotism.”
Mediene claimed the event was successful despite plots hatched by “haters” and “enemies.”
“We should be proud of our convention,” said Mediane.
The president said that the congress will allow the party to better its “performance” and improve its capacities so that it remains as a voice of the nation and a leader in terms of the principles it defends and the choices and positions it takes to fight for the country’s causes and the “Moroccan people’s aspirations to live a decent life based on equality of chances and social justice.”
The leading party member spoke of a “unified Istiqlal family,” urging his co-party members to putthe PI’s interests above all personal considerations.
“We should be proud of the victory of Istiqlal members in their battle for unity and overcoming existing problems,” said Mediane.
“The battle was not easy,” he wrote, but the party members proven they are “wise” and “alert.”
Mediane’s statements are unlikely to repair the image which Moroccans have made of the party,which has become a source of ridicule after the convention they say was mainly marked by “flying objects.”