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Morocco Islamists Struggle With Coalition Rule

Abdallah Bouanou, the head of the Islamists' parliamentary delegation, told The Associated Press that there are powerful forces in the administration, business world and opposition parties that oppose the government's ambitious reform agenda and want to undo Morocco's Arab Spring, which began on Feb. 20, 2011 â¿¿ something he warned that could spark renewed popular demonstrations.

"There are people who benefited from the despotism and corruption before Feb. 20," he said Wednesday. "They want to go back to before Feb. 20 and they don't respect the law or the (new) constitution."

He warned that if they succeeded the people, as well as his own party, would return to the streets. "If necessary the PJD would not hesitate to also go into the streets to protect the reforms and defend the constitution," he said.

The squabbles within the coalition and without come against a backdrop of an increasingly serious economic situation.

Official unemployment has risen to 9 percent and the deficit last year reached a higher-than-expected 7.1 percent of GDP.

International ratings agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor recently downgraded the country's outlook from stable to negative because of the worsening fiscal crisis, citing in particular the lack of progress on reforming a system of subsidies for fuel and food staples that costs the country $6.5 billion a year. The government announced that it would reform the massively expensive program taking up 6 percent of GDP by June and replace across the board subsidies with targeted aid to the most needy.

Moody's noted that the country only had $15 billion in hard currency reserves, just enough to cover four months of imports.

Morocco received help from the International Monetary Fund in August with a $6.2 billion precautionary credit line â¿¿ but the assistance comes on the condition that the subsidies and pensions system are reformed.

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