Aziz Akhannouch named as Morocco's new PM

Published : September 11, 2021 17:15 IST

New Morrocan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch has promised social and economic reform. Photo: Chadi/Xinhua/picture alliance

Billionaire businessman and Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch is set to lead a new Moroccan government after his liberal party soared to victory in parliamentary elections.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI on September 10 appointed Aziz Akhannouch as the country's new Prime Minister.

A statement from the royal palace said the King tasked Akhannouch with forming a new government. The announcement came after Akhannouch's National Rally of Independents (RNI) party triumphed in Wednesday's parliamentary polls. The pro-business RNI managed to secure 102 out of the 395 seats in parliament, toppling the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won a paltry 13 seats.

Who is Aziz Akhannouch?

Akhannouch is one of the wealthiest people in Morocco, with an estimated fortune of around $2 billion (€1.7 billion). Since 2016, the businessman has been the leader of the RNI party, which is seen to have close ties to the royal household.

Akhannouch is CEO of the Akwa Group, a Moroccan conglomerate operating mainly in the oil and gas sector. He has also served as agriculture minister since 2007. Shortly after the declaration of results, Akhannouch said he would "implement his majesty's vision."

The businessman has called Wednesday's results "a victory for democracy." Akhannouch has promised to create 1 million jobs to boost the economy. The RNI has also pledged to expand health insurance and hike the salaries of the country's educators.

Navigating the path ahead

The task for the RNI is to build a coalition government with a majority of at least 198 seats.

The liberal Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) garnered 86 seats. September 9's results, however, have dealt a blow to the long-ruling PJD, which has been at the helm since 2011.

PJD's leader Saad Dine El Otmani had served as prime minister since 2017. He claimed there had been violations in the polls, including vote buying. Otmani and other senior party figures have resigned from their party posts, and the PJD said it would go into opposition and not seek to join the next governing coalition.

kb/fb (AFP, Reuters)

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