Morocco's king today appointed a new prime minister to end a political deadlock that left the North African country without a government for five months, the royal court said. King Mohammed VI named Saad-Eddine El Othmani, a former foreign minister who belongs to the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), to form a new government. El Othmani will replace Abdelilah Benkirane, who had been previously asked by the king to form a new government after his PJD won the most seats in elections in October 2016. The prime minister-designate is a trained psychiatrist who served as secretary general of the PJD from 2004 to 2008 and as foreign minister from January 2012 to October 2013. The PJD had come to power after the king relinquished some of his near-absolute control following Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2011, with Benkirane heading a previous coalition government for five years. But the party failed after last October's polls to form a majority despite five months of intense negotiations -- the longest time Morocco has been without a government in its recent history. The palace announced yesterday that the kind had decided to appoint another PJD member to lead the government "within the shortest possible time". Benkirane said he would bow to the king's wishes and also told AFP he would step down from the leadership of the PJD in the coming months. "We cannot comment on decisions taken by the leadership.
All I can say is that of course I accept this decision, which falls in line with the constitution. One cannot say no to His Majesty," he said.
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