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Moroccan king removes designated prime minister over coalition deadlock

Morocco's king has ousted the designated prime minister in an effort to settle a five-month deadlock over forming a new government.

A surprise palace statement late on Wednesday announced that King Mohammed VI has removed Abdelilah Benkirane, the head of the Islamist party PJD that won last year's parliamentary election, from his duties.

The statement says the king made the decision after pushing Mr Benkirane to speed up efforts to form a coalition government.

The king is expected to name another member of the Party for Justice and Development to replace Mr Benkirane.

The PJD won the election, but did not gain a majority to allow it to govern alone.

The confusion has threatened to damage Morocco's reputation in the region for political stability after years of upheaval in the Arab world.

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