Akhannouch, New Secretary General of National Rally for Independents

Aziz Akhannouch was elected new secretary General of the National Rally for Independents succeeding Salah Eddine Mezouar who presented his resignation following the October 7 legislative elections.

Akhannouch, who served as Agriculture and Fisheries Minister in the outgoing government, won the election by 1,707 votes against 98 votes for his rival Rachid Sassi during a poll held during an exceptional meeting of the RNI in Rabat on Saturday (October 29.)

In the October 7 parliamentary elections, the RNI came fourth with 37 seats preceded by the Istiqlal party with 46 seats, the Authenticity and modernity party with 102 seats and the Justice and Development party in the first position with 126 seats.

Consultations are ongoing for the formation of a coalition government. Following his election as RNI’s head, Akhannouch met with his peer of the PJD Abdelilah Benkirane but no statement was made with regard to the RNI’s possible participation in a PJD-led coalition government.

In 2014, Aziz Akhannouch made it into the top 20 wealthiest Africans with a fortune estimated at $1.4 billion. And in its latest ranking, Forbes listed Akhannouch as the second richest billionaire in Morocco with a wealth totalling $1.86 billion. Akhannouch’s wealth came largely from his majority ownership of Akwa group, a multibillion-dollar Moroccan conglomerate with interests in petroleum, gas and chemicals through its publicly-traded subsidiaries Afriquia Gas and Maghreb Oxygene. It also has businesses operating in media, real estate development and hotels.

Akwa Group was founded by Akhannouch’s father, who later took on a partner, Ahmed Wakrim. While Akhannouch serves as Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, he has handed off day-to-day management of the group to Ahmed Wakrim’s son Ali Wakrim. His wife and brothers also participate in the management of the group.

Born in Tafraout in 1961, Ahannouch was educated at Sherbrook University in Canada from which he graduated with an MA in business administration. In 1990, he returned to Morocco to take care of his family’s business where he earned a reputation of being a hard-working boss.

Akhannouch was elected president of the council of the Souss-Massa Draa region from 2003 to 2009. In 2007, he served as minister of Agriculture and fisheries. In 2012, King Mohammed VI renewed his mandate at the helm of the same ministry. On August 23, 2013, Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane appointed him acting economy and finance minister for a short period after the resignation of Nizare Baraka, whose Istiqlal Party had then quitted the first PJD-led coalition government.

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