Abderrahmane Youssoufi, a Death of a Great Statesman

All Moroccans were deeply shocked by the death of Abderrahmane Youssoufi. Despite his political retirement about 16 years ago and the differences over his role in the alternating government, he was always loved and respected by all Moroccans, especially His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who used to visit him during his illness. In this regard, everyone remembers this beautiful picture showing HM the King kissing Youssoufi on the head. A highly symbolic gesture and, in any case, an unprecedented gesture from a sovereign to one of his subordinates. Everyone also remembers the ceremony during which HM King Mohammed VI and Youssoufi lifted the veil on the plaque naming one of Tangier’s boulevards after Youssoufi.

Abderrahmane Youssoufi was born on 8 March 1924 in Tangier. He finished his secondary education at the Moulay Youssef high school in Rabat. He also has a law degree and a postgraduate diploma in political science.

Abderrahmane Youssoufi worked as a lawyer. But years earlier, he had joined the ranks of the national movement when he was only 19 years old. He fought against the French colonizer and played a major role in the armed resistance. He actively participated in the organization of the Liberation Army after the exile of HM Mohammed V. It is for this reason that he bears the title of “Mujahid” (fighter).

His passion for politics has always been strong. He joined the ranks of the Istiqlal Party in 1943, before separating from it and founding in 1959, with his comrades Mehdi Benbarka, Mohammed al-Faqih Al-Basri, Mahjoub Ben Seddiq, Abderrahim Bouabid and Abdellah Ibrahim, the National Union of Popular Forces, which later became the Socialist Union of Popular Forces.

He was one of the fiercest opponents of the regime of the late HM King Hassan II. It is in this connection that he was arrested on several occasions. He chose exile in France for 15 years after his death sentence, pronounced in absentia in what is known as the Marrakech trial, before being pardoned in 1980. He returned to Morocco, before returning to France again in protest against the 1993 electoral fraud.

At the request of his friends, Youssoufi agreed to take charge of his party’s general secretariat, in preparation for the great reconciliation with the regime of the late Hassan II, who entrusted him with the primacy of the first alternating government, intended to save Morocco from what HM Hassan called “the cardiac arrest” that threatened the Moroccan political system. In doing so, Hassan II wanted to lay the foundations for a smooth political transition.

Appointed Prime Minister in February 1998, he continued to assume his duties with dignity and determination until 2002, when he withdrew from politics for good to protest against the distortion of democratic logic by putting a technocratic minister at the head of the government, whereas it was the responsibility of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, appointed by the ballot box, to fill this post.

Thus, the dean of the socialists slipped away from the Moroccan political scene, refusing to speak or make statements to the press and merely publishing a book entitled “Dialogues about what happened”, a work that left everyone hungry. He preferred to leave quietly and without revealing the many secrets that could have reshaped the history of modern Morocco.

Abderrahmane Youssoufi died on Friday 29 May 2020, at the age of 96. Due to emergency measures, he was unable to enjoy a funeral worthy of the great statesman that he was.

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