Jordan PM quits six months into reform mandate (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Ahmad Khatib 04/26/12)
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Jordan´s Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh resigned on Thursday, barely
six months after forming a reform-mandated government to bring in
political and economic change in the country.
King Abdullah II replaced Khasawneh, who was in Turkey, with Fayez
Tarawneh, 63, who was prime minister and royal court chief in the
The king "asked Fayez Tarawneh to form a new government after the
resignation of Khasawneh today," a senior official told AFP.
Khasawneh, 62, an International Court of Justice judge, formed his
cabinet in October, becoming the third premier in 2011, saying he
had "received guarantees from the king to have full sovereignty as
It was unclear why Khasawneh quit but news reports quoted sources as
saying he was unhappy that the king decided to extend parliament´s
ordinary session until June 25.
"Regardless of how he quit, this showed the sovereignty which the
prime minister talked about does not exist in Jordan," said Zaki Bani
Rshied, head of the political bureau of the powerful Islamic Action
"It revealed the level of power struggle within the state.
Unfortunately, the security services and a siege mentality have won."
Bani Rshied, whose party is the political arm of the country´s Muslim
Brotherhood, warned that "the coming phase will be full of political
"All that talk about reform that we have been hearing was nothing. It
has been proven that there is no will to introduce reforms. The
current atmosphere shows that the country is heading towards more
failure," he told AFP.
Following his appointment, Khasawneh vowed to fight corruption, and
analysts warned at the time that his government could be a last-ditch
shot at reform.
He won a comfortable vote of confidence for his government from
parliament in December after pledging to push ahead with reforms.
But Khasawneh came under sharp criticism for proposing an electoral
law that has been seen as a blow to pro-reform movements, including
the powerful opposition Islamists.
The long-awaited draft, which was approved by the cabinet earlier
this month, scraps a contested one-person-one-vote system and
increases a quota for women MPs.
The Islamists and other groups criticised the proposal, mainly for
limiting the number of seats allocated to political parties.
Jordan has seen relatively small but persistent Arab Spring-inspired
demonstrations almost every week since January 2011, demanding
sweeping reforms and a tougher fight against corruption.
But no significant anti-corruption action has been taken so far,
while the overall debt reached $21 billion by the end of February.
And officially, unemployment is about 14 percent in the country of
nearly 6.5 million people, 70 percent of them under the age of 30.
Other estimates, mostly from non-government organisations, put
unemployment as high as 30 percent. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France
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