Moroccan PM in rare criticism of king's entourage

Reuters , Monday 23 Apr 2012

Moroccan Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane criticizes Kingly clique, warns Arab Spring not over

Morocco's prime minister has hit out at courtiers around King Mohammed in rare criticism that could signify the start of a confrontation between the Islamist-led government and powerful figures close to the palace.

Morocco's authorities, under pressure from the "Arab Spring" upheavals elsewhere in the region, held early elections last year which for the first time handed power to the opposition PJD party of moderate Islamists.

Since then, analysts have been predicting a stand-off between the government, which is committed to tackling corruption and poverty, and a moneyed elite with long-standing ties to the palace.

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane spoke out on Sunday after his government's plan to reform state-run television, widely seen as a mouthpiece for the monarchy, was criticised by figures close to the palace.

"The Arab Spring is not over yet," Benkirane told a PJD gathering in Rabat on Sunday, according to remarks carried on Monday by local newspapers. "It (the Arab Spring) is still wandering about and may feel like coming back," he added.

"In this country, even the monarchy itself needs citizens who seek reform ... Kings are not always surrounded by the right kind of people, they can actually be surrounded by foes who become the first to desert them."

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