A former Prime Minister and figurehead of Morocco’s socialist left, Abderrahmane El Youssoufi has died in the wee hours of Friday in Casablanca, at the ripe old age of 96.Born as a native of Tangiers on March 8, 1924, Youssoufi had joined the ranks of the national movement at a very young age, while he was still a high school student in Rabat.
He was a member of the General Secretariat of the National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP), which in 1975 became the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP).
He became the editor-in-chief of its press organ “Attahrir” between 1959 and 1965.
Youssoufi’s activism earned him numerous arrests and convictions during the reign of late King Hassan II.
He was arrested twice in 1960 and 1963, when he was sentenced in absentia, along with all members of the UNFP’s administrative commission, to a two-year suspended jail sentence for conspiracy against the regime.
After the assassination in France of the socialist leader Ben Barka in 1965, he went to Paris to participate in the organization of the trial.
He then began a 15 -year exile in France. He was prosecuted in absentia during the great trial in Marrakech, which took place between 1969 and 1975, for conspiracy.
The prosecutor had requested the death penalty against him.
Abderrahmane Youssoufi thus became the only opponent in the Arab world to occupy the helm of a so-called alternative government.
Upon royal pardon, he returned to Morocco in 1980 and became head of USFP after the death of socialist leader Abderrahim Bouabid.
In the early 1980s, he went into voluntary exile in France, but returned a few years later to resume his post as First Secretary of USFP.
On February 4, 1998, the late King Hassan II instructed him to form an alternative government, which he presented to the monarch on March 14 of the same year.
After King Hassan’s death, King Mohammed VI kept him as head of government by paying him an outstanding tribute.
He was reappointed Prime Minister in the government formed on September 6, 2000 and will remain there until October 9, 2002.
The government of change which he led to a pivotal stage in the history of the country, will go down in history as being a cabinet which launched many political and economic projects and initiatives, intended to reconcile the general public with politics.
He was a politician of a particular class.
Rare are the politicians who have earned the respect and admiration of the whole nation and those from on high even after retirement.
In 2016, King Mohammed VI inaugurated an avenue in Tangiers named after the deceased, in memory of his patriotism.
The late Youssoufi has undoubtedly left an indelible imprint in Moroccan political history, thanks to his selflessness and love for country.
The alternative government which he led as Socialist Prime Minister contributed to the building of a modern, democratic Morocco with a respect for human rights.