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We're not the Brotherhood: Morocco's Islamist PM

Morocco's Islamist Justice and Development Party is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, according to PM Abdelilah Benkirane

Ahram Online , Thursday 14 Feb 2013
Morocco's Premier and head of the Justice and Development Party Abdelilah Benkirane speaks in Rabat July 14, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Morocco's Islamist premier, Abdelilah Benkirane, denied links with the Muslim Brotherhood, Arab press reported on Tuesday.

Benkirane, head of the ruling Islamist Justice and Development party, emphasised that Islamist movements have "their own political thought".

"People voted for us as a political party as Moroccans are Muslims by nature; the government does not plan to Islamise society or interfere in people's personal lives," he said.

Benkirane expressed firm rejection of the so-called committees for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice that have arisen in the North African kingdom, stating that only governments are entitled to impose law and order.

When asked about the appointment of only a single female minister, he argued that women's political empowerment in Morocco could not be compared to standards in France, as it had started only recently.

"Gradual participation is the best solution for such an issue," he said.

Benkirane's arguably-moderate party won historic elections in November 2011, following constitutional change introduced by King Mohamed VI to curb his near-absolute authorities.

Benkirane was appointed to head Morocco's government in January 2012, but it remains unclear how much real power he holds. The amended constitution gives parliament a greater role in the legislative process and strengthens the role of the prime minister.

The election move came in response to the king's bid to end Arab Spring-inspired protests, led by the pro-reform February 20 movement.

The February 20 movement, which called for a boycott on the referendum on the constitutional changes, argues the reforms do not go far enough and that the election will only give credibility to an undemocratic regime.

However, Benkirane insisted that democracy in Morocco was moving, "slowly but surely" during an interview with France 24 TV channel last October.

"We are in the process of taking small... but decisive steps," Benkirane told the French television channel on the sidelines of the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg.

The Arab Spring "set the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt on fire, and ours was scalded. It was because of that that we had a new constitution, that we had elections and that a party once harassed and marginalised" was voted to power, he said.

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