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Justice and Development Party PJD wins Morocco parliamentary elections
Saturday October 8, 2016 4:34 PM, Agencies

Morocco Elections

The Islamist party that has headed Morocco's coalition government since Arab-spring inspired protests five years ago beat liberal rivals in parliamentary elections, according to official partial results.

The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) took 99 seats while the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) -- which had campaigned against the "Islamisation" of Moroccan society -- took 80 with 90 percent of the vote counted, the Interior Ministry said.

Among the other parties, provisional figures showed National Rally of Independents (RNI) winning 30 seats, while 21 seats were taken by Popular Movement (MP).

Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad said the election was "transparent" and had gone well, rejecting accusations of voter fraud from both sides.

The PJD earlier issued a statement saying it was "very concerned about numerous reports of fraud being carried out by authorities" in favour of the PAM, and called on the interior ministry to "urgently intervene".

PAM spokesman Khalid Adennoun declined to comment but said that his party had filed "50 complaints" of voting irregularities, some concerning the PJD in Tangiers.

Khaled Adnoun also said he was pleased with the outcome of the election and ruled out any kind of cooperation with PJD.

"We are happy with the results, though we were expecting to grab more seats. However, we did better this time than in 2011," Adnoun said. "As said before by PAM secretary general, there will be no cooperation of whatever with PJD."

An Islamist candidate was attacked and wounded outside a polling station in Rabat, according to local media.

A video shared on social networks also showed a man stuffing a ballot box, leading the PJD to file a complaint, media reported.

Participation was at 43 percent, or roughly 6,750,000 voters, Hassad said during a press conference in the capital Rabat.

Early turnout had been low in Rabat with many people waiting till after the weekly noon prayers to cast their ballots while others trickled to the polls after office hours.

Meriem, a voter in her 40s, said after casting her ballot in central Rabat: "I came to carry out my duty as a citizen. Our Morocco needs a healthy democracy."

To make life easier for the illiterate, who make up a third of Morocco's population, the 30 parties in contention were marked on ballot papers with symbols such as a tractor or camel.

The PJD had been tipped to lead polls, but analyst Abdellah Tourabi said, "No one, really no one, can say or predict... who will win".

Full results will be announced on Saturday but the Islamist party already has a comfortable lead and seems highly likely to head up the next government.

But real power will remain in the hands of King Mohammed VI, the scion of a monarchy that has ruled the North African country for 350 years.

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