Aziz Akhannouch, a billionaire tycoon has been named by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Thursday to lead the new government formed after Akhannouch’s National Rally of Independents (RNI) defeated incumbent Islamists in September’s elections.
Businessman Akhannouch, worth $2 billion according to Forbes and who has led the RNI since 2016 is expected to face pressing economic problems aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The new government will also take office amid increased tensions with regional rival Algeria, which cut diplomatic ties with Rabat in August over what it said were “hostile actions”.
The 24-member cabinet includes seven women, up from four in the previous administration.
It is largely made up of technocrats, with veteran diplomat Nasser Bourita keeping his role as foreign minister.
The RNI won 102 of parliament’s 395 seats in the September 8 polls, sweeping away the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) which had headed the governing coalition for a decade but took just 13 seats.
The list of ministers included members of the liberal RNI and the election runner-up the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), both considered close to the palace, and the centre-right Istiqlal party, which fought colonial rule.
Akhannouch pledged to improve conditions for citizens of Morocco, where entrenched social inequalities have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Despite the North African kingdom’s 2011 constitution that transferred more powers from the monarchy to the government and parliament, the king still retains the final say on strategic issues and major projects, regardless of who is in government.