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Morocco's Justice and Development Party loses electoral strongholds

Head of the National Council of Justice and Development Party (JDP), Saadeddine Othmani in Rabat, Morocco on 21 March, 2017 [Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency]
Head of the National Council of Justice and Development Party (JDP), Saadeddine Othmani in Rabat, Morocco on 21 March, 2017 [Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency]

Morocco's Justice and Development Party, which heads the government coalition, lost a key stronghold last week in the Errachidia district.

The party, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Morocco, ranked third after the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and the National Rally of Independents (RNI). The defeat comes months before municipal and legislative elections, which are scheduled for the second half of this year, are held.

Some attributed the defeat to the group's stance on the decision to teach scientific subjects in schools in the French language, and its support for the normalisation agreement with Israel.

Member of the party's general secretariat, Abdelaziz Aftati, denied that the recent defeat in the elections indicated the party's popularity was in decline and demanded results be evaluated thoroughly.

Hafid Ezzahri, a political science researcher, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said the defeat was a clear warning to those with ties to Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani, as a young, local politician was voted in.

Othmani, who also serves as Secretary-General of the Justice and Development Party, has faced a wave of criticism following Rabat's decision to normalise ties with the occupation state of Israel in return for the US' recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region.

The prime minister has, however, said the decision to build ties with Israel is one taken by the monarch and he and his government are unable to counter the king's decision.

READ: It is time for reconciliation between Morocco and Algeria

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