Morocco’s PJD’s previous and current leaders clash over the former’s public statements, suggesting a rift between the two.
Rabat – Saad Eddine El Othmani, the leader of Morocco’s ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD), has lashed out at Abdelilah Benkirane, the PJD’s former head, for what the party sees as inconsiderate public statements.
Appearing to distance himself from Benkirane on a number of issues, El Othmani suggested during a party meeting on Wednesday that his predecessor is no longer a legitimate representative of the PJD.
In a number of statements made in recent weeks, Benkirane attacked education minister Saaid Amzazi, who is pushing for a legislative reform seeking to teach high school scientific subjects in French.
The former PJD leader said that maintaining Arabic should be the priority of any government that wants to secure Morocco’s future.
“Arabic is crucial for the future of Morocco,” he said.
Benkirane also recently attacked agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch for suggesting that recent reforms in Morocco were initiated under the auspices of King Mohammed VI, rather than by Benkirane who has claimed that he was the driving force behind the reforms.
Akhannouch is a member of the center-right National Rally of Independent (RNI) party, PJD’s most serious political rival.
Of the two RNI ministers, Benkirane said they are “weak leaders from whom Moroccans should not be expecting anything.”
Benkirane does not represent PJD
In response to Benkirane’s comments, El Othmani said that the former PJD leader was speaking in his own name, rather than on behalf of the party.
“Benkirane spoke for himself,” El Othmani said, noting that Benkirane’s statements should be taken as those of a simple citizen voicing his concern, rather than as coming from a political leader.
Benkirane, El Othmani noted, “has no political or organizational power to apply his ideas.”
According to Moroccan daily Al Akhbar, the party’s clarification was meant to show that despite having a relatively considerable number of loyals within the ranks of a party he led for years, Benkirane is increasingly losing political relevance.
The former PM remains a PJD mogul, and it is unclear whether the majority of the party leadership is keen on ostracizing him, or making him redundant in the country’s political debate.
What remains certain, however, according to Al Akhbar, is that many in the PJD want to protect the party from the Benkirane’s tendency towards impulsive statements.
Benkirane has a history of explosive public statements.
In January, he incurred the ire of Tunisians for making “insulting and undiplomatic” comments on the North African country’s political culture.
Commenting on Tunisia’s “continuous general strikes,” Benkirane said that the North African country is an “undisciplined and socially unstable country,” despite having a relatively robust democracy.
In response, many Tunisians said he should “shut up” and attend to his own concerns.