Former Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi, in Rabat on March 8, 2018. - AFP

One of the great figures of Moroccan political life, the ex-Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi, chosen in 1998 by king Hassan II to direct a "government of alternation", died Friday at the age of 96 years. The ex-socialist activist was buried the same day in Casablanca in the presence of a limited number of relatives due to the state of health emergency.

Prime Minister from 1998 to 2002

It is "a considerable loss, not only for his family, but also for his country, Morocco, which loses one of its most valiant men," wrote King Mohammed VI. Several Moroccan personalities also paid tribute to this lawyer by training for his integrity and his commitment, while Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune greeted an "experienced statesman" and an "exemplary Maghreb activist".

Famous for his commitment to the independence of the kingdom and then against the regime of King Hassan II during the "lead years", he is the only opposition leader in the Arab world to have bet on reform within a coalition government, after years of struggle and exile. Prime Minister from 1998 to 2002, a period of transition between the reign of Hassan II and his son Mohammed VI, his retirement from political life in 2003 had been interpreted as acknowledging the failure of the transition to the promised parliamentary monarchy by the Alawite dynasty. Abderrahmane Youssoufi had to remain silent until the publication of his memoirs in the spring of 2018.

An exile in France

Born in Tangier on March 8, 1924, Abderrahmane Youssoufi joined the independence movement while he was a student in Rabat. In 1992 he took the head of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) after having campaigned for years within this leftist party. In this position, he had led long negotiations with Hassan II to turn the page on the past, obtaining among other things in 1994 a general amnesty for all political prisoners and exiles. He himself had been arrested twice during "the years of lead", in 1960 and 1963, and released in 1964 before choosing exile.

His years in France, from 1965 to 1981, were marked by his political commitment within the party he had founded with Mehdi Ben Barka and by his participation in the creation of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, a NGO based in Cairo.


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