independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

Morocco in crisis as six ministers resign

Six ministers from the junior partner in Morocco's governing coalition will resign today because of a cabinet dispute over subsidy reforms and other issues, a spokesman for the conservative Istiqlal party said.

Istiqlal is in coalition with the Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD) that won 2011 legislative elections held after the adoption of the new constitution proposed by King Mohamed to stifle the Arab Spring protests.

"Our ministers will submit their resignations to the prime minister on Tuesday, we are no longer members of this coalition," the Istiqlal spokesman Adil Benhamza told Reuters.

It remained unclear whether the king, who wields ultimate power, would accept their resignation, though political analysts said Istiqlal's move did not appear spontaneous and may have had at least partial support from the palace.

Istiqlal, which controls the finance ministry and five other cabinet portfolios, is unhappy about government plans to start deregulating the prices of some basic goods after the holy fasting month of Ramadan, saying they will hurt poor Moroccans.

The government wants to avoid a drop in living standards that could reignite street protests, but it also needs to rein in costly subsidies as it struggles with economic fallout from upheaval across the Arab world and from the euro zone debt crisis, which has hit its main source of trade and investment.

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