August 1, 2018 / 3:42 PM / 20 days ago

Morocco's King Mohammed sacks minister after urging action on economy

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco’s King Mohammed has sacked the minister for the economy and finance, the Royal Cabinet said on Wednesday, three days after the monarch urged action to tackle social and economic problems.

FILE PHOTO: Moroccan Minister of Economy and Finance Mohamed Boussaid speaks during an interview with Reuters journalist, during the IMF economic conference in Marrakech, Morocco January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

The decision to dismiss Mohamed Boussaid from the post was taken in consultation with Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani, it said in a statement on the Moroccan news agency.

“This Royal decision is part of the implementation of the principle of accountability which His Majesty is keen to apply to all officials, whatever their ranks or affiliations,” said the statement.

It did not offer further details on the reasons for the dismissal but it followed the king’s call in a speech on Sunday, when he said the government should also do more to boost investment.

“The statement only gave a constitutional justification for the surprise dismissal,” said Mohammed Masbah, Chairman of the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis.

On Sunday the Central Bank and the Court of Accounts also presented two reports to the king which respectively criticized Morocco’s economic performance and finances, Masbah said.

Boussaid, a member of the co-ruling liberal RNI party, had been in the post since 2013 under two governments led by the Islamist PJD party. He did not pick up his phone when Reuters called to request a comment.

Moroccan consumers angry about living conditions have been boycotting major brands since April, but Boussaid described the campaign’s proponents as deluded. His statement to parliament was believed to have increased support for the boycott launched on social media and taking aim at diary company Centrale Danone, Sidi Ali water brand and the Afriquia fuel stations of RNI party chief, billionaire agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch.

Boussaid is the fourth minister in the current government to be sacked. In October 2017 the king fired the ministers of education, planning and housing and health for failing to improve the economic situation in Rif region which was shaken by protests in late 2016 and early 2017.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Catherine Evans and David Stamp

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