Morocco’s king appoints billionaire Akhannouch to head government after election win

Morocco’s king appoints billionaire Akhannouch to head government after election win

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has named businessman Aziz Akhannouch to lead a new government after his liberal RNI (The National Rally of Independents) party thrashed the long-ruling Islamists in parliamentary elections.

The king appointed Akhannouch “head of the government and tasked him with forming a new government”, following Wednesday’s polls, a statement from the palace said on Friday.

The RNI won 102 of parliament’s 395 seats, defeating the moderate PJD Islamists, which had headed the governing coalition for a decade but took just 13 seats, according to results released by the interior ministry.

Morocco’s King expects changes

A recent overhaul of the elections laws meant it was the first time Morocco’s 18 million voters cast ballots in both parliamentary and local elections on the same day, an effort to boost turnout. Many world leaders have congratulated the successes of elections.

Just over half of eligible voters participated, according to the interior minister of Morocco, higher than the 43% in the 2016 legislative polls.

The RNI party also came first in the local elections, winning 9,995 of the 31,503 seats, and the regional poll with 196 of the 678 positions.

The newly appointed Prime minister hailed the results as “a victory for democracy”.

Who is Aziz Akhannouch?

Aziz Akhannouch is a 60-year-old, Moroccan politician, businessman, and billionaire. He is the CEO of Akwa Group and also served as Minister of Agriculture between 2007 to 2021.

Akwa group is primarily engaged in the oil and gas industry but operates also in the telecommunication, tourism, hotels and real estate sectors. Its service stations operate under the Afriquia brand

The billionaire businessman – worth $2bn according to Forbes – has led the RNI since 2016.

His party is considered close to the palace and has been part of all coalition governments for the past 23 years, except during a brief period between 2012 and 2013.

After his win, Akhannouch pledged to improve conditions for citizens of Morocco, where entrenched social inequalities have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

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