October 9, 2019 / 5:26 PM / 10 days ago

Morocco reshuffles cabinet, keeps foreign and finance ministers

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco announced a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, reducing the number of jobs to 23 but keeping the foreign, finance and interior ministers in their posts.

King Mohammed VI approved the list of new ministers submitted by Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani, state news agency MAP reported, after having asked him in the summer to arrange a reshuffle.

The tourism, housing, youth and culture, employment, justice and health ministers were changed, but the interior, religious affairs, agriculture, energy, trade and industry and education ministers stayed in place.

El Otmani’s moderate Islamist PJD party has seven cabinet posts in the newly configured government, while the liberal RNI led by business tycoon Aziz Akhannouch has four, including his own appointment to agriculture.

The socialist PPS party withdrew last week from the coalition over what it described as political disagreements.

Many of the new ministers are technocrats without clear party affiliation, a development that some analysts say shows the influence of the palace in appointing strategic portfolios, while political parties are marginalised.

“In the constitution, Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, but in reality it is close to an executive monarchy,” said Mohamed Masbah of the Independent Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA).

Morocco is seeking a new development model to fight poverty and curb regional and social disparities.

The north African country has largely been insulated from the turmoil that hit North Africa and the Middle East since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, although it regularly sees protests over economic and social problems.

Reporting By Ahmed Eljechtimi, writing by Angus McDowall, Editing by Franklin Paul and Sonya Hepinstall

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