Close to 10,000 supporters of Morocco’s governing Islamist party took part in the party’s opening rally in Rabat on Sunday, ahead of the the country’s parliamentary elections.
The October 7th ballot will be the second since the 2011 Arab Spring-like protests that prompted King Mohammed to introduce a new constitution to diffuse unrest and give the elected cabinet more powers.
The Islamist Justice and Development party known by the french acronym PJD is looking to strengthen its position, though it is not openly challenging a royal establishment that is distrustful and ill at ease sharing power with Islamists.
“We started off in 2011, the when the Arab political system was under siege. The justice party refused to take part in what happened at that time in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and other countries that you know. We will not take risks with our country nor with the monarchy which is the guarantor of our stability after God.” said Abdelilah Benkirane, leader of the PJD Islamist party.
This rally marked the real start of the general election campaign, which was officially launched on Saturday throughout the country, to end on the 6th of October.
A total of thirty parties will take part in this election, which is shaping up as a tight duel between the PJD and its archrival the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), which describes itself as a “modernist” party to deal with Islamists. Sixteen million voters are expected to participate in electing 395 legislative leaders