"The Islamists Are Astonishingly Open": An Interview with Fouad Abdelmoumni

Analysis, posted 12.19.2011, from Morocco, in:
"The Islamists Are Astonishingly Open": An Interview with Fouad Abdelmoumni (Photo: dpa)

Abdelilah Benkirane is Morocco's new prime minister. This is the first time that your country has had an Islamist head of government. To date, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) has put up a rather mediocre performance at communal level. Were you surprised by the PJD's good result in the parliamentary elections on 25 November?

Fouad Abdelmoumni: For many Moroccans, the PJD is still an attractive and credible option – more credible, anyway, than the other parties, which have discredited themselves by their close ties to the establishment. But you must also bear in mind that the PJD only gained a quarter of all parliamentary seats, and that voter turnout in the election was extremely low. There are 24 million adults in Morocco, only 13 million of whom were registered to vote. Out of these 13 million, only 6 million actually voted, and only 4.5 million of these votes were valid. Also, many Moroccans boycotted the election or posted invalid ballot papers in the ballot box.

What are the challenges facing the new Moroccan government? What, in your view, are the areas most in need of attention?

Abdelmoumni: The only real progress in recent decades that has actually made a difference to the population as a whole has been in the supply of drinking water and electricity. In all other areas Morocco has fallen well short of its possibilities. We have been continuously sliding down the United Nations' Human Development Index for years. The biggest problem by far, along with deficiencies in the healthcare system and social security, is the poor quality of education in schools.

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Interview by Martina Sabra; Translated by Charlotte Collins

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