RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Inaugurating Morocco’s new parliament, King Mohammed VI called Friday for a new national system to manage essential food, medicine and energy stocks after major disruptions caused by the pandemic.
The speech came a day after the king appointed a new government made up of a coalition of liberal and conservative parties and led by a billionaire businessman. The new parliament and government are the result of elections last month that ousted Islamists who had dominated the legislature and run the government for a decade.
The king holds ultimate power in the North African country. In a televised speech from the throne, he formally inaugurated the new parliament’s first session Friday.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inauguration ceremony in the parliament building in the capital Rabat was held on a smaller scale, with fewer members of the legislature’s two chambers in attendance than usual.
Noting that the pandemic has caused major disruptions in supply chains in many countries, the king insisted on the need to set up “an integrated national system to manage the strategic reserve stock of essential goods and products, especially in the areas of food, health and energy.”
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown that sovereignty issues are, once again, front and center,” he said.
The new cabinet, run by Prime Minister Aziz Akhanouch of the Rally of National Independents party, is made up of 24 ministers, including seven women. It was announced Thursday.
Seven ministers retained their positions, including the important foreign and interior ministers. Nadia Fettah Alaoui, who was tourism minister in the previous government, will be Morocco’s first female finance minister.
Akhanouch, one of Morocco’s richest men, was appointed as prime minister last month after his party placed first in legislative elections. He replaced Saad Eddine El Othmani, whose Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) suffered a stinging defeat in the Sept. 8 election.
The PJD’s leadership resigned en masse after the elections and said the party would join the opposition ranks.
The new coalition includes the RNI, the Authenticity and Modernity party and the conservative Istiqlal.
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.