Can the Moroccan king afford political rivalry?

AFP , Friday 14 Dec 2012

After he wrote about candidates close to the King in Tangiers's by-elections, an AFP journalist has accreditation withdrawn. Will the Moroccan authorities listen to the AFP's request that they should review that decision?

Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said Thursday the kingdom would not tolerate the media implicating the king in political party rivalry, in reference to the withdrawal of an AFP journalist's accreditation.

The government decided to suspend Omar Brouksy's press accreditation on October 4, in response to a story he wrote that referred to the participation in a Tangiers by-election of candidates "close to the royal palace."

The candidates in question ran under the banner of the Authenticity and Modernity Party, founded by Fouad Ali El Himma, a close adviser to the Moroccan king.

"The French have to know something, that in Morocco we hold certain things sacred," Benkirane said, speaking at a joint news conference with his visiting French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.

"In our constitution, his majesty the king voluntarily eliminated the text that spoke of his sacredness. Moroccans love the king and respect him and they don't like having his name mixed up in any old subject," he added.

"I'm sorry, but journalists should also take our sensibilities into consideration. We don't like hear people talking of a 'king's party,' because there isn't a king's party. The party of the king is Morocco," he said.

"We considered that a line was crossed, we were obliged to react," he said, in reference to the AFP journalist.

AFP has officially requested that the Moroccan authorities review their decision to withdraw Brouksy's accreditation.

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