RABAT — Moroccan authorities banned the closing ceremony of the ruling party's youth conference that was due to be held on Saturday, citing "security concerns," a party official told AFP.
"At around 10 pm (on Friday), a local official sent us a document banning the ceremony" due to take place in the northern city of Tangiers, the Justice and Development Party's (PJD) Khalid Bougueri told AFP by telephone.
An interior ministry official requesting anonymity confirmed the ban, saying it had been imposed over "security concerns and to maintain order."
Over 2,000 youths from the moderate Islamist PJD, whose head Abdelila Benkirane is the current Moroccan prime minister, have met over the past week in Tangiers for the annual conference.
Benkirane, who was not initially on the programme, was to "deliver a few words" at the closing ceremony, said Bougueri.
During the conference, young Islamists condemned the relationship between Benkirane and King Mohammed VI's entourage, which is accused of overshadowing the government.
"I fear the authorities' decision is revenge for the work of the conference," senior PJD member Abdelali Hami al-Din told AFP, confirming that Benkarine was expected on Saturday in Tangiers.
"It is a humiliation for our party and we must not stand by with our arms folded," PJD delegate Abdelaziz Aftati said.
King Mohammed VI named Benkarine prime minister in January after the Islamist party's historic November 2011 victory in legislative elections.
A new constitution which reinforced the prime minister's power was adopted in July 2011, whilst preserving the king's political and religious supremacy.
Activists protested in late August against Morocco's annual ritual of loyalty to the king, seen by critics as outdated and degrading.
Senior members of the PJD also believe it is time to do away with such traditions, arguing that it is out of step with the 21st century.
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