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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 said 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.

While ultimate power in Morocco rests with the king, he rarely intervenes directly in forming a government.

He did so this time, the palace said, "to overcome the current situation of immobility" and "in his constant concern for consolidating democratic choice."

It was a big blow for Mr Benkirane, who became prime minister after his moderate party won elections in 2011 for the first time in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings.

Protests in Morocco prompted constitutional reforms granting more powers to the elected government.

The past PJD-led government was a coalition of parties from left and right, but tensions have since surfaced and Mr Benkirane no longer enjoys the same broad support.

AP

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