It has taken me a week, but I’ve finally gotten around to sharing some thoughts on the recent remaniement ministérial. From first glance, the cabinet reshuffling appears to be about building momentum for upcoming reforms (regionalization) and promoting qualified technocrats, but this is more of a media-friendly backdrop. It doesn’t take much scratching to find a web of settled scores and political calculations below the surface. Here are a few essentials:
1) The Interior Ministry was handed over to Taieb Cherkaoui, president of the Moroccan Supreme Court, after the disastrous handling of the Aminatou Haidar Affair by the outgoing minister. The promotion of Cherkaoui, who has very strong kinship ties to the palace, represents a dangerous fusion of the penal and security systems.
2) The announcement of Mohommed Naciri—an accomplished lawyer representing numerous royal interests—raises similar concerns. Although Cherkaoui and Naciri are both eminently qualified, one has to ask: are people so closely tied to the palace capable of pushing for a more independent judiciary or greater rule of law if such reforms curtail the powers of their patrons?
3) El Himma’s pick: The choice of Driss Lachguer as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs is the most calculated. Lachgar is an outspoken champion of moving his USFP party back to the opposition and collaborating with the PJD. Lachguer’s entrance into government lays to rest any rapprochement with the Islamists in the foreseeable future. El Himma, best friend of the king, and his PAM party are smiling behind the scenes.
4) Majidi’s pick: The choice of Yassir Znagui is slightly more encouraging. He was a successful banker for Citibank London who created a tourism investment fund in Morocco. He is young but appears qualified. Znagui also has close ties to the king’s money manager and omnipotent bandit Mounir Majidi.
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