Abdelilah Benkirane, the Moroccan prime minister, will be one of the keynote speakers at the Ninth AlJazeera Forum that will be held 4 through 6 May 2015 in Doha. Prime Minister Benkirane’s keynote speech will be of paramount importance given the Moroccan experience’s uniqueness within the context of the Arab Spring. While the country experienced popular protests after the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions in early 2011, King Mohammed VI initiated a number of reforms to contain the protests. This led to an amended constitution which granted wider powers to parliament and the prime minister. The reforms also stipulated that the king should designate the leader of the majority party in the elected parliament to form the cabinet.
The Justice and Development Party, led by Benkirane, won the majority of seats in the House of Representatives in the early elections held after the constitutional amendments were passed. Following that victory, King Mohammed VI appointed Benkirane to form the government. The prime minister formed the first coalition government in January 2012. When the Istiqlal (Independence) Party withdrew from the government in the middle of 2013, Benkirane formed his second coalition government in October 2013, and that coalition remains in power today. While the Justice and Development Party’s ascension to power was controversial in the eyes of those who did not believe that constitutional reforms were sufficient, it is worth noting that it is the first Islamist party to be in power since Morocco’s independence.
AlJazeera Centre for Studies, which ranked sixth among think tanks in the Middle East, is organising and coordinating this year’s Forum in collaboration with the various components of AlJazeera Network. Themed “Conflict and Change in the Arab World”, this year’s Forum will draw the broad participation of leading politicians, policymakers, writers, intellectuals and media personalities from around the world, providing a unique platform for the exchange of information and views.