Moroccan Premier Forms Government, Ending 5-Month Crisis

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Morocco's Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani succeeded in building a governing coalition Saturday, ending a damaging five-month political deadlock just eight days after taking office.

El Othmani, 61, of the Islamist Party for Justice and Development, or PJD, announced in a press conference in Rabat that an agreement had been reached with six political parties to form a coalition government.

"We will proceed step by step," El Othmani, No. 2 in the PJD and a former foreign minister, told The Associated Press after the announcement.

"Now that we have defined the members of the government coalition, three steps remain: defining the flowchart and structure of government, then the ministerial portfolios, and then the ministerial departments that each party in the coalition will manage."

Othmani moved swiftly after his March 17 appointment to bridge differences with rival parties.

His moderate Islamist party won parliamentary elections in October but didn't win enough seats to govern alone. El Othmani's predecessor Abdelilah Benkirane failed to build a coalition and alienated potential partners.

The protracted crisis was hurting the economy and Morocco's image, and the king fired him this month in an unusual intervention.

The new six-party coalition includes the PJD, pro-market parties RNI and UC, conservative MP party and the socialist parties USFP and PPS. Together they hold 240 seats in the 395-seat House of Representatives lower house of parliament.

The Cabinet's ministers are chosen by the prime minister, after consultation with other parties forming the government coalition, then appointed by the king.

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