Morocco’s King Mohammed on Monday named moderate Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane as prime minister for a second term after his party won the most seats in last week’s election, Reuters reports:
After five years in government, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) party won 125 seats while the rival Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) took 102, in a tight race for the 395-seat parliament that will complicate formation of a coalition.
The PAM, founded by a close friend of the king who is now a palace adviser, portrayed itself as a liberal alternative to Islamists. But critics say it was used by the royal establishment, uncomfortable about sharing power with Islamists, to push back PJD influence.
Freedom of expression is expanding in Morocco, according to Yasmine Khayat, an independent journalist based in Casablanca.
“Even though the current press code has some shortcomings, it is bringing more freedom to the pursuit of journalism,” she told the Moroccan American Network’s Second International Media Forum. “Morocco is challenged by security and social issues, but it is still working toward establishing democracy and leaving behind the old practices.”
“When conventional media fails, social media speaks,” she added.
The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that protect fundamental freedoms in Morocco. DRL seeks to support programs to increase advocacy for and implementation of a strong legal framework that protects the freedom of expression, association, and assembly. Program approaches could include, but are not limited to:
- Analyzing existing and/or draft laws and regulations to ensure their consistency with international standards;
- Training on current laws and issues regarding freedom of expression for journalists and other media professionals (including new and alternative media actors);
- Advocating for improved legal and regulatory frameworks, including government and justice sector engagement, where appropriate;
- Supporting implementation of existing laws consistent with international human rights norms and/or laws that address issues of concern to citizens;
- Supporting input into new draft laws or draft revised laws under review, especially on issues pertaining to fundamental freedoms;
- Encouraging collaboration between civil society groups and media advocacy groups;
- Building the capacity of civil society organizations to document and report on freedom of expression, assembly, and associated-related challenges faced by target beneficiaries, such as civil society, news organizations, citizen journalists, bloggers, and/or others.