Rabat – The news is finally out, and without surprise, it is Saad Eddine El Othmani who will succeed Abdelilah Benkirane as the new Secretary General of the PJD, with 1006 voices against 912 for his rival, Driss Azami Idrissi.
Head to head since the first ballot conducted this morning by the members of the National Council, El Othmani was barely leading the polls with 180 voices against 160 for Azami Idrissi. The 275 voters of the National Council had chosen eight names, six of which withdrew, leaving only El Otmani and Azami Idrissi in the running.
For many, El Othmani’s win was to be expected. While this would be his second term after serving from 2004-2008 as head of the PJD, the current Head of the government was assured of the support of his fellow PJD and Executif members. Labeled as “Ministers Coalition” by some Moroccan media, this current represents the elite of the party currently at the head of the governmental coalition.
Driss Azami, Mayor of Fes and second runner of this turmoiled race, is deemed close to former Secretary General Abdelilah, who is ending his second (and last) successive mandate as head of the party.
A few days before the Congress, the PJD was called upon to vote on a crucial provision: Article 16 of the party’s internal regulations, which limited the terms of the SG to two.
The debate around ‘Article 16’ came back to the surface after Benkirane failed to form a government coalition in the aftermath of the October 7th legislative elections, which brought him to the head of the government with 107 seats.
The negotiations around the formation of the government, afterwards labeled as the infamous “government deadlock,” lasted over six months. At the end of this impasse, one in which Benkirane lost his seat as head of government, King Mohammed VI had instructed Saad Eddine El Othmani to form a government.
Since then, the Othmani wing has been perceived by some members of the party as being very conciliatory towards the Royal Palace, prompting many to renew Benkirane’s term at the head of the party to achieve a certain balance.