Moroccan king appoints new Islamist-led government

Moroccans are confident Benkirane could lead new government

RABAT - Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Tuesday named a new government led by Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, an official said.
"The king named the members of the new government at the royal palace in Rabat," an official said, more than a month after the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) won legislative polls.
The PJD becomes the first Islamist party to run government in the Arab world's oldest monarchy after winning the most seats in the November 25 election.
With 107 MPs, Benkirane's movement could not control the 395-seat parliament alone and formed a broad coalition with several other parties, including conservative monarchists, liberals, socialists and ex-communists.
As Tunisia and Egypt ousted their longtime dictators through popular uprisings early last year, Morocco's king nipped swelling protests in the bud by offering a constitutional reform that curbed his powers.
The July referendum was overwhelmingly adopted and while it was still the monarch who officially named the government on Tuesday, the line-up was based on recommendations made by Benkirane.
The PJD will hold the largest number of portfolios in the new government with 11, including the justice ministry, formerly one of the "sovereign ministries" the monarch would hand to close aides not necessarily affiliated to any party.
The new coalition also includes the Istiqlal (Independence) party, which came second in the November election with 60 seats, as well as the liberal Popular Movement, of which the PJD was initially a splinter.
The Socialist Union of Popular Forces, founded by the iconic opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka, came third in the election but opted out of the coalition talks.
An opinion poll released last month found that more than 80 percent of Moroccans were confident Benkirane could lead the country's new government.