Egypt's shadow: No. 2 party quits Morocco's Islamist-led government, plunging it into crisis

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A key party has quit Morocco's Islamist-led government, as countries across the Arab world struggle to reconcile religious and secular political forces.

A spokesman for the Istiqlal party said its six Cabinet members in the Moroccan government tendered their resignations Tuesday, and the party announced it is formally joining the opposition.

Istiqlal, a secular right-of-center party, is the second-largest in parliament after the Islamist PJD.

The resignations came amid disputes over subsidy cuts — but also as Morocco has closely watched unrest in Egypt. The PJD backed deposed Egyptian Prime Minister Mohamed Morsi, while Morocco's king expressed support for Morsi's replacement.

Morocco's Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, of the PJD, could now either dissolve the government and call early elections, or try to form new alliances to fill the empty seats.