Mohamed Benaissa aims for the presidency of the upper house of Morocco | Mohamed alaoui
RABAT – Mohamed Benaissa, former Moroccan foreign minister and mayor of Asilah, submitted his candidacy for the elections to the House of Councilors of the Kingdom of Morocco (upper house of Parliament) on Monday.
Benaissa, 84, is running on the electoral list of the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) for the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, which includes five candidates: Fatima Saadi, Abdulaziz bin Azzouz, Rachida Achboun, Ahmed Ouahbi and Mohamed bin Issa .
Sources within PAM confirmed to The Arab Weekly that the party leadership is likely to present Benaissa as the best qualified to lead the upper house of parliament, with the support of the National Rally of Independents (RNI) and al parties. -Istiqlal, the main partners of the new coalition government.
This support, the sources added, prompted BenaÃ¯ssa to submit his candidacy for the upper house.
The same sources noted in a statement to The Arab Weekly that it would be too early to discuss the WFP’s decision, noting that Benaissa would not have appeared in the upper house if there was no guarantee that he would win and get the post of president.
They added that the secretary general of the PAM, Abdellatif Ouahbi, had persuaded Benaissa to run under the banner of his party, as a first step to allow his return to the political scene via the post of president of the upper house.
Ouahbi’s decision, the sources explained, came in view of the political and diplomatic experience that Benaissa has accumulated over the past decades and the man’s mature relations with various parties at home and abroad.
For the first time since 1992, Benaissa stood for the municipal elections on September 8 under the banner of the PAM, having previously run under the banner of the RNI, whether in Parliament in 1978 or locally, then later in as an independent, without affiliation to any party.
Candidates will compete for five seats in the region designated for representatives of territorial groups (municipalities) and it is expected that Benaissa will join the upper house before submitting his candidacy for the presidency as a representative of the PAM, with the support of the two other parties forming the government coalition.
Experts believe that Benaissa’s role, if he gets the job, will be crucial and effective, given his political and diplomatic background.
By becoming president of the upper house, experts said, Benaissa will add momentum to Morocco’s parallel diplomacy by addressing some thorny topics including Western Sahara, the Libyan conflict among other key African issues. Benaissa will be helped in this by his relations with heads of state and veteran figures from Africa, according to experts.
Benaissa was first elected mayor of Asilah in 1984, a post to which he was re-elected three times until 2010. He was previously Minister of Foreign Affairs from April 1999 to October 2007. Prior to that, he was Moroccan Ambassador to the United States. (1993-1999).
Benaissa was also Minister of Culture from 1985 to 1992. After leaving the government, he moved away from national politics and turned to the management of local public affairs, becoming in 2009 at the head of the Collective Council from the city of Asilah.
Benaissa is the secretary general of the Asilah Forum Foundation, which organizes the Assilah International Cultural Festival, launched in 1978 on his initiative.
Political observers believe that Benaissa has invested in the festival as a parallel cultural, political and diplomatic platform to garner African and international support for Morocco and the region.