Jordan king blames premier for slow reform (AP) Associated Press) By JAMAL HALABY AMMAN 04/26/12 2:54 pm ET)
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AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan´s King Abdullah II blamed his resigning prime
minister Thursday for failing to push hard enough for reforms,
reflecting frustration on all sides over demands for power-sharing
and fair representation in parliament.
In a letter to Awn al-Khasawneh, Abdullah complained
that "achievements so far are far less than what is required and way
below what we expected."
The king appeared to come down on the side of those pushing for swift
moves toward a greater say in politics and improved economic
conditions in resource-scanty Jordan, which depends on U.S. aid to
keep its economy afloat.
Such measures would cut into his own power as absolute ruler.
"We neither have the leisure of time nor the possibility of
delinquency and postponement," the king wrote. His letter was read on
The statement came hours after al-Khasawneh resigned suddenly, just
six months after he took office with a pledge to push for political
He was quickly replaced by Fayez Tarawneh, a veteran politician known
to be close to the king. He served as premier more than a decade ago,
when Abdullah assumed power.
The sudden switchover in premiers indicated that public pressure may
be having some effect.
Jordanian protesters demanding political reforms have been taking to
the streets sporadically for the past 15 months, though in smaller
numbers than elsewhere in the Arab world, where popular uprisings
toppled longtime rulers Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.
Abdullah´s criticism reflected the deep disagreements between al-
Khasawneh and the king over reforms, particularly a law to govern
this year´s parliamentary elections.
Critics have charged that a previous electoral law favored the king´s
traditional backers by drawing districts that maximized
representation for Bedouin tribes.
Al-Khasawneh was working on a revised bill to even out the
representation, but that drew rebuke from Jordan´s powerful security
services and conservative tribal elders.
Al-Khasawneh resigned over displeasure that the king wanted
parliament to extend its session to debate the election law, an
"He wanted a month of rest, during which parliament would go on a
recess and then back into a special summer session to debate the
reform laws," the official said. "The king wanted parliament to
continue working at the same pace until all the laws are debated and
He insisted on anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
The official said Tarawneh will form his Cabinet early next week.
Tarawneh, 62, is an ex-ambassador to the U.S. who headed the
Jordanian team that negotiated a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. He
was prime minister in a Cabinet that oversaw the transition of power
to Abdullah from his late father, King Hussein, in 1999.
Tarawneh is a liberal who was known to support popular calls for
reforms while serving as a member of the royally-appointed Senate. (©
2012 The Associated Press 04/26/12)
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