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Moroccan prime minister warns opponents of hiring thugs

Morocco's Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, who is also the leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party in Morocco, has warned his political opponents of hiring thugs and utilizing funds to achieve political gains.

During a speech for a Justice and Development Party conference in Casablanca, Benkirane said: "A government which gains the majority support will not be easily removed," in reference to his political rival Hamid Chabat, the leader of the Independence Party.

Benkirane told Chabat, whose party has won a parliament seat in the Moulay Yacoub district in the state of Fes: "You can use thugs in Moulay Yacoub in Fes. But you cannot use them in Morocco. The Moroccans will not let you do that."

He explained that while the Justice and Development Party accepts that it lost a seat in Moulay Yacoub, there are "no congratulations to those who won, for they used thugs to win."

Benkirane claimed that his party's rival had hired a candidate who was also a member of three other parties, and that he spent money and used thugs to win, stressing that his own party will work peacefully and not disturb the peace of the Moroccan people, abiding by their values and ethics.

Describing the Moroccan experience today, Benkirane called it "a true return to democracy", pointing out how there is "no longer an opposition which opposes the state; only an opposition which opposes the government." Benkirane believes that it is "okay to start with six or seven thousand supporters and to use some unusual demonstrators in your rallies," referring to the participation of donkeys in a march organized by the Independence Party three weeks ago in Rabat. Indeed Benkirane said that he hopes that "his opposition is strong enough, because one cannot continue in the government forever."

Benkirane also addressed the Moroccan people: "I believe we lead a promising experience and we are moving step by step, quietly, even though they oppose us. However their opposition does not resonate. The current experience in Moroccan life has been credited for restoring stability and tranquillity."

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