El Othmani is under constant party fire as his positions on crucial policy issues are viewed as contrary to the core pillars of his political family.
Rabat – Morocco’s head of government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, is facing aggressive intra-party scrutiny as a number of influential members of Morocco’s ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) increasingly view some of his policy preferences as a “fatal blow” to the party’s Islamist and nationalist reputation.
As PJD’s party solidarity fades, sources in the inner circles of the party’s highest places have been quoted in numerous Moroccan media outlets as indicating that the majority of the party leadership wants El Othmani out. Those calling for El Othmani to be ousted are mostly former PJD ministers who still exert a considerable clout in the party’s executive board, according to reports.
Citing the party’s identity, which they say is anchored in securing national pride, party hardliners are calling for a much stronger figure “capable of managing the party when faced with controversial issues.”
The suggestion is that El Othmani has agreed to policy recommendations that do not reflect the PJD’s nationalist platform. El Othmani is seen as too conciliatory and impressionable.
Reporting on the issue in its April 12 edition, Moroccan Arabic newspaper Assabah cited Habib Choubani, who between January 2012 and Mai 2015 served in the Benkirane-led government as minister of relations with Parliament and civil society, as being a prominent figure of the anti-El Othmani faction. According to Assabah, Choubani has requested an extraordinary party congress as soon as possible.
PJD’s charter indicates that extraordinary meetings are normally held when preparing for election or when discussing government formation. In his letter requesting the party congress, however, Choubani said that he wanted the party to discuss “three issues of utmost importance.”
The internal disagreement about draft Law 51.17, an education bill which has been dividing the party, is among Choubani’s questions.
Another important name reprimanding El Othmani is Abdelilah Benkirane.
Said to be planning a return to politics, the former head of government has been harshly critical of El Othmani in recent days.
On the parliamentarian project to replace Arabic with French as Moroccan schools’ language of instruction for scientific subjects, which El Othmani has approved, Benkirane has said that sidelining Arabic for a foreign language is a “crime” against PJD’s founding philosophy.
While collecting supportive voices to sink El Othmani, Benkirane is reportedly poised to emerge as a strong and nationalist leader for PJD.