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Rally of Independents leads liberal parties win in Morocco elections
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 09 - 09 - 2021

The National Rally of Independents (RNI) led the Moroccan legislative elections held on Wednesday after counting 96 percent of votes, announced Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit early Thursday.
Preliminary results in Morocco show two liberal parties on course to win almost half the seats in parliament. The largest party until now, which claimed election fraud on polling day, saw its support collapse.
The National Rally of Independents (RNI) and Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) won 97 and 82 seats respectively, according to preliminary results with most of the votes counted.
The Islamist party Justice and Development Party (PJD), which headed a ruling coalition in the country for the past decade, saw its support collapse from 125 to just 12 seats. However, it had alleged "serious irregularities" amid the voting, accusing its rivals of vote buying.
With final results to be announced on Thursday, the center-right Istqlal party appeared set to claim 78 seats in the 395-seat assembly in the country.
The RNI won 97 seats of the 395-seat House of Representatives (the first chamber of parliament), the minister told a press conference held to announce the country's election results.
The Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) came second by winning 82 seats, the Istiqlal Party came third with 78 seats, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces came fourth with 35 seats and the Popular Movement came fifth with 26 seats, the minister said.
The Justice and Development Party, which led the government for two successive terms, won only 12 seats, the minister added, noting that the other political parties obtained 12 seats.
It is also reported that the Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani, supported by the PJD, has failed to win a seat in the parliament.
He pointed out that polling turnout in the country's parliamentary elections hit 50.35 percent. More than 100 observers from various Arab and international election watchdogs, in addition to local observers representing 44 non-governmental organizations, observed the electoral process.
Under Morocco's semi-constitutional monarchy, King Mohammed VI will name a prime minister from the party that wins the most seats. It is then incumbent on the chosen candidate to form a Cabinet and submit it for the king's approval, with royalty reserving a right to veto key appointments.
The RNI went from being a junior member in the previous governing coalition to be the leading party in the new one.
Headed by billionnaire businessman Aziz Akhannouch, the party has more liberal ideas, which are closer to King Mohammed VI, ending ten years of Islamist-led government under the PJD.
Created in 1978, it is comprised of businesspeople, technocrats and highly-placed civil servants. The RNI campaign succeeded in wooing voters under the slogan "You Deserve Better" written in the Moroccan dialect rather than traditional Arabic.
Its leader, Akhannouch, was minister for agriculture and fisheries during his time in the government coalition. According to Forbes he is worth $2 billion, the second richest man after the king in the country. He made his fortune in the energy industry, banking, real estate and tourism.
The PJD had earlier complained of "serious irregularities" during voting. "We're very concerned as we watch the progress of the national election. We've seen several irregularities," the party said.
Akhannoush called the attacks by the PJD "an admission of failure." The Interior Minister Laftit said voting took place "under normal circumstances" apart from some isolated incidents.
Although the Moroccan economy has steadily grown in the past decades, poverty is still widespread in parts of the country. — Agencies

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