Tensions have erupted between Morocco’s royal establishment and the Islamist ruling party, with the Islamist justice minister complaining of “weird” goings-on in the run-up to a parliamentary election next month. Mustapha Ramid accused his government colleague Mohammed Hassad, a technocrat appointed by the royal palace as interior minister, of monopolizing decisions on organizing the election and failing to consult with the justice ministry. Unlike rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya who were overthrown in Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, Morocco’s King Mohamed rode out popular protests while ceding some authority to the government, which has been led for the past five years by the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD). But the coming election is straining the delicate political balance in the country of 34 million people by exacerbating divisions between the palace and the PJD.
“The justice minister used to decide with the interior minister on all election matters but now, three weeks before Oct. 7 elections, weird and strange things are happening, ” Ramid said on Facebook, without going into details.
Last week, the interior ministry rejected the application of a conservative cleric allied to the PJD who wanted to run as an election candidate in the tourist city of Marrakesh, with officials accusing him of making hate speeches. The PJD dismissed the charge, but replaced him with another candidate.
Last week the king accused a minister from the PJD’s junior partner of dragging the monarchy into the campaign by describing a royal adviser as an incarnation of authoritarianism.