Veteran Moroccan politician Boucetta dies

WEB_PHOTO_MOROCCO_  BOUCETTA_18_02_2017

Mohamed Boucetta, former Moroccan Foreign Minister and co-founder and secretary general of the Istiqlal (nationalist party), in Rabat 18 Feb. 1998. Boucetta aged 92, died on 17 Feb. 2017 at his home in Rabat after a long illness.

Mohamed Boucetta, former Moroccan Foreign Minister and co-founder and secretary general of the Istiqlal (nationalist party), in Rabat 18 Feb. 1998. Boucetta aged 92, died on 17 Feb. 2017 at his home in Rabat after a long illness.

RABAT - The co-founder of Morocco's oldest political party Al-Istiqlal, which played a key role in the country's independence from France and Spain, has died aged 92, the party said on Saturday.

M'hamed Boucetta, three-time minister and Istiqlal party chief for more than two decades, passed away at his home in Rabat on Friday evening after a long illness, Istiqlal said on its website.

He will be buried Sunday in his birthplace, the southern city of Marrakesh, it said.

Born in 1925, Boucetta became involved in politics as a student, when Morocco was still under French and Spanish rule.

He studied law at France's Sorbonne University then set up his own law firm in Casablanca at the age of 25 before going into politics full time, the party's website said.

Istiqlal, which means independence, played a major role in Morocco's fight for independence from French and Spanish rule.

Involved in the party since its formation in the 1940s, Boucetta was elected secretary general in 1974.

He also served as foreign minister in the early 1980s before quitting Istiqlal's top post in 1998, and held two other cabinet portfolios, the party said.

Nationalist and conservative, Istiqlal dominated Morocco's political life until 2011, when the Islamist Justice and Development Party won general elections following Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations.

In legislative elections last year, Istiqlal came third.