October 4, 2019 / 8:19 PM / 11 days ago

Morocco coalition party quits ahead of reshuffle

RABAT (Reuters) - A member of Morocco’s governing coalition said on Friday it would join the opposition ahead of a reshuffle requested by King Mohammed VI, citing disagreements with its partners in government.

Senior Progress and Socialism Party (PPS) members, announcing the decision following a majority vote of the party’s central committee, decried a “democratic deficit” in Morocco and cited “backtracking” from a new 2011 constitution under which the king was to devolve more powers to parliament.

Analysts said the move would make the reshuffle easier for the moderate Islamist PJD party, which has led the government since emerging with more seats than its rivals in the last parliamentary election in 2016.

The PJD and other parties in the coalition can still command a parliamentary majority after the PPS, the party of both the housing and health ministers, quits the government.

King Mohammed shifted some powers to parliament after protests in Morocco during the Arab spring, but he still holds most sway and can fire cabinet members or dismiss the whole government after the resignation of the prime minister.

Voter turnout in 2016 was 43% of registered voters and 29% of eligible voters.

In July King Mohammed called for a reshuffle to add fresh blood to decision-making before the next election in 2021. He must approve the appointment of all new ministers.

Two years ago he sacked four cabinet ministers, including two from the PPS, for failing to improve social and economic conditions in the Rif region, where protests flared in 2016.

The party’s departure from government will make it easier for the PJD to share out cabinet posts among the other coalition members in a way the king approves, political analyst Mustapha Shimi said.

(This story corrects paragraph five to show that the king can dismiss whole government if the prime minister resigns)

Reporting By Ahmed El Jechtimi; editing by Angus McDowall and Daniel Wallis

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