TIMELINE-The rise of Morocco’s PJD party

Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:13pm GMT

Nov 29 (Reuters) – Morocco’s King Mohammed on Tuesdayappointed Abdelilah Benkirane as the new prime minister afterhis moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) wonthe most seats in a parliamentary election last week.

Following are key events that have led to its resoundingsuccess in the elction:

* The party’s founder is the late Abdelkarim al-Khatib, aprominent figure in the nationalist movement for independencefrom the French protectorate, who was also the physician of KingMohammed V, grandfather of the current king.

* After independence in 1956, Khatib joined pro-palacefigures to create the Popular Movement party to counter thenationalist Istiqlal Party (Independence Party) in the aftermathof unrest and assassinations of prominent figures in theresistance movement.

* Khatib breaks ranks with the Popular Movement to protestthe imposition by King Hassan of a state of emergency andcreates the Democratic and Constitutional Popular Movement party(MPDC). The new party advocated the adoption of Sunni Islamicteachings and pushed for lifting the state of emergency byholding fair elections.

* A prominent figure in the Socialist Union of PopularForces (USFP) party – then the main opposition to the monarchy -is stabbed to death in 1975 by two members of Shabibaal-Islamiya (Islamist Youth), a clandestine organisation thatwas suspected of being manipulated by the security apparatus.

* Leading figures in Shabiba al-Islamiya, includingAbdelilah Benkirane, set up in 1982 the secret Jamaa al-Islamiya(The Islamist Group). The group becomes legal in 1992 andchanges its name to Al-Islah wa Tajdid (Reform and Renewal). Itchanged its name to Attawhid wal Islah (Monotheism and Reform)in 1996.

* A frail King Hassan offers a constitutional reform in 1996that would allow opposition parties mostly from the left to jointhe government.

* Khatib allows members of Attawhid wal Islah (Monotheismand Reform), including Benkirane, to join his MPDC party as itgears up for parliamentary election in 1997 that were later wonby USFP. The move was widely-seen as a bid by the monarchy’ssecurity apparatus to weaken Al-Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice andSpirituality), an Islamist group banned from politics because ofits hostile rhetoric towards the monarchy.

* Benkirane was among nine MPDC members to win seats inparliament in 1997 election.

* In 1998, MPDC changes its name to Justice and DevelopmentParty (PJD).

* PJD more than quadruples to 42 the number of seats itholds in parliament after coming third in parliamentary electionin 2002 but chooses to remain in the opposition.

* Authorities coerce PJD to limit the number of itscandidates in local elections in 2003 under a vast securitycrackdown in the aftermath of suicide attacks that killed 45people in Casablanca on May, 16, 2003.

* PJD names psychiatrist Saad-Eddine el-Othmani SecretaryGeneral to replace an ailing Khatib.

* PJD comes second in 2007 parliamentary polls with 46seats.

* The party’s founder Khatib dies in September, 2008. He was87.

* Benkirane narrowly wins the top post in the party in 2008.

* On March 9, King Mohammed responds to protests inspired byArab Spring uprisings by proposing to trim his powers. PJDsucceeds in pressuring royal advisers to remove freedom ofreligion from an early draft of the new constitution of 2011.

(Reporting By Souhail Karam)

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