El Othmani: The Psychiatrist who Runs the Government

Saad-eddine El othmani was born in 1956 in Inezgane, near Agadir, into a modest Amazigh family from the Souss, which became known for the erudition of its members. He completed his primary education in his native town before obtaining a degree in Islamic law from the Sharia faculty in Aït Melloul in 1983.

El Othmani then went to Casablanca where he studied at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, where he obtained a doctorate in general medicine and then specialized in psychiatry. And after years of working as a general practitioner, he will join the University Hospital Center of Psychiatry of Casablanca, then the Psychiatric Hospital of Berrechid. But at the same time, he obtained a degree of Higher Studies in Islamic “Fikh” (law) from Dar Al-Hadith Al-Hassania in Rabat, thus combining two types of training, one scientific and the other religious.

El Othmani entered politics through preaching. He participated in the founding of the Jamaa al-Islamiyya and joined the Movement for Unification and Reform, where he was a member of the executive bureau from 1991 to 1996, before rising through the ranks of the Justice and Development Party and becoming one of its most important leaders. He will be elected to the post of Secretary General for several terms, the last one in 2017 when he was elected by a majority vote to succeed Abdelilah Benkirane. He will also succeed Abdelilah Benkirane as head of government, having been appointed by His Majesty King Mohammed VI following Mr. Benkirane’s failure to form a government.

Since becoming Head of Government, El Othmani has continued to assume his high office, managing problems and crises in the manner of a psychiatrist. His calm smile never leaves him, even in the most embarrassing situations. And despite his media appearances in which he addresses his messages to the targets concerned, he always shows diplomacy, while never departing from the red lines he has drawn for himself.

El Othmani has also managed to maintain the cohesion of his party despite the crises he has faced, especially after the political ousting of his Secretary General and former Head of Government, an event which led to the division of the PJD members into two camps, one which remained loyal to Benkirane, and the second which supported him. But El Othmani has always denied this fact, saying that his party is still as strong as ever, despite the differences of views and opinions that may arise among party members.

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