YOUSSOUFI, Abderrahman

Abderrahman Youssoufi was born on 8 March 1924 in Tanger. As Berber and French languages were used in his family, it was at school that he had to learn Arabic. Graduated in Public Law and Political Science, he is considered as one of the main actors of the movement for independence in Morocco. His political career started in 1943 with his adhesion to the Istiqlal Party and by organizing the working class. He also participated in the creation and the leadership of the Resistance Movement and the Liberation Army between 1953 and 1956.

In 1959, he was one of the founders of the left party, the National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP) which changed its name in 1975 to Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP). Following Ben Barka’s kidnapping and supposed death, he wwent into exile between 1965 and 1980. During that period, he became one of the outstanding figures regarding the protection of human rights in the Arab world. He played an active role in certain NGO’s, such as the Arab Lawyers Union and took part in the creation of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, the « SOS Torture » organization, the Arab Institute for Human Rights and the Morocco Organization for Human Rights (OMDH).

In 1978, after the death of Abderrahim Bouabid, he was nominated first Secretary of USFP. He resigned in September 1993 but took office again in 1995.

Following the legislative elections of 14 November 1997, in which the USFP emerged as the single biggest force with 57 seats out of 325, Youssoufi was chosen as Prime Minister by King Hassan II on 4 February 1998. This nomination, which was an important step in the political reforms initiated by the king, was confirmed by his son Mohammed VI when he succeeded his father in July 1999. The new king went further to indicate his support to the policy represented by Abderahman Youssoufi when he dismissed on 12 November the all-powerful Driss Basri, who had been Minister for Interior since 1981.