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Ilyas El-Omari stepped down on Aug. 8 as secretary-general of Morocco's Party of Authenticity and Modernity, a party close to the palace – even as the popular protests around the Rif city of Al-Hoceima continue.As the party finds itself under pressure and struggles to compete with the Islamist Party of Justice and Development, the PAM wants to prove its political relevance by confronting and blaming the PJD over the Al-Hoceima crisis.Omari is a seasoned, controversial politician who had served less than two years as the PAM's secretary-general. This strengthened Omari's image as a party leader who might be able to revitalize the PAM after its disappointing performance since 2011 .Yet in the Oct. 7, 2016, parliamentary elections, the PJD again took first place, while the PAM came in second, and at that time the king again appointed Abdelilah Benkirane to form a government. In the PAM's view, the PJD holds primary responsibility for that failure, because the project was launched under Benkirane's government and the Al-Hoceima crisis blew up under the caretaker government after the Oct. 7 elections.Because the PAM had not achieved the electoral success it had hoped for, the party was pushed further to the background – even though it had so recently thought it could regain its position as the top party, form a government and force the PJD into the opposition.
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