Rabat - The Justice and Development Party (PJD) never ceases to beguile the public. Shortly after Abdelilah Benkirane was denied a third term as the party’s secretary general, journalists, political activists and Facebook users embarked on a discussion of who within the party supported and opposed Benkirane and the prospect of his political future. Here are the answers.
Rabat – The Justice and Development Party (PJD) never ceases to beguile the public. Shortly after Abdelilah Benkirane was denied a third term as the party’s secretary general, journalists, political activists and Facebook users embarked on a discussion of who within the party supported and opposed Benkirane and the prospect of his political future. Here are the answers.
Benkirane’s hopes of getting elected for a third term as the secretary general through a back-door amendment were crushed on Saturday during the party’s national assembly in Salé.
One-hundred twenty-six members of the PJD voted against the amendment of the internal laws of the party, against 101 members who supported Benkirane’s decision to seek a third term.
Former judge Mohammed Kandil harbored hopes of having Benkirane re-elected at the Secretary General of the PJD.
He said there was nothing wrong with allowing the charismatic politician to run for a third term in the party, particularly since “he was politically assassinated by the royal palace,” referring to his dismissal by King Mohammed VI as head of government.
“His utter political assassination could have been prevented if he was allowed a third term. The results of the last National Assembly of the party confirm the clinical death of the PJD,” he said in a Facebook post.
Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid shares Kandil’s opinion on the party’s demise. Except that for him, this would have occurred if Benkirane remained secretary general.
The lifelong rival of Benkirane did not hesitate to affirm that he sees “no interest” for the PJD to amend Article 16 that would have permitted Benkirane at to lead the party. “That would be synonymous with partition. We would then become a new party,” he said.
Aziz Rabah, who also has a history of conflict with Benkirane, agreed that amendments in Articles 16 and 37 would create an intra-party struggle.
Deputy Secretary General Slimane El Omrani, who first supported the renewal of Benkirane’s term, then changed his position, saying that it would lead to a coup.
Meanwhile, General Director of the PJD, Abdelhak Elarabi and members Abdelali Mahieddine and Amina Melainine, among others, clung to their position in favor of renewing the current secretary general.
The minister in charge of relations with parliament took a stand supporting Benkirane, provided that he the party would support the government of the Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani.
The Council similarly rejected the amendment to Article 37 which prevents ministers from being able to serve as general secretaries of the party. By doing so, the party was able to avoid an inevitable split.
In its Monday edition, the daily Assabah noted that El Othmani is positioned on the front line to become the future secretary general of the party during its next congress, scheduled for December 9 and 10 December.
‘They Have Forgotten History’
Though Benkirane accepted the decision of the National Council, saying that “democracy’s results must be accepted,” he condemned the ministers for not having supported him, especially as he said it is because of him that the party made political and electoral progress.
“The best of us did not own anything, and we all drove small cars, but now that our brothers are well off, they have forgotten history.”
Asked about his political future, Benkirane said that “I have been sacked from my position as head of the government by the King and my responsibility as secretary general has been taken away by the National Assembly. All talk is over. I do not predict the future.”
Benkirane was elected in 2008 as PJD’s Secretary General when he defeated current Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani.
Benkirane’s charisma was a key factor for the party’s big win in the October 2016 elections, snatching 125 seats out of 395, an unprecedented result in the history of the country.
Still, as he was lacking a clear majority, the PJD had to look for partners to form a coalition government, which turned out to be a difficult task. The party’s former ally, the National Rally of Independents (RNI), imposed the condition of including two other parties in the coalition before joining, which Benkirane refused.
The negotiations quickly arrived at a standstill, resulting in a six-month deadlock that ended with Benkirane’s dismissal by the King.