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Jordan king swears in new 'transitional' govt

Jordan's King Abdullah II swears in new "government of reform" to oversee legislative polls as political forces criticize draft elections law

AFP , Wednesday 2 May 2012
Jordan's Prime Minister-designate Fayez Tarawneh speaks during an interview Thursday, (Photo: AP).
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Jordan's King Abdullah II on Wednesday swore in a 30-strong cabinet led by Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh, tasked with bringing reforms to pave the way for general elections by the year's end.

The cabinet includes 20 newcomers, among them former MP Ghaleb Zubi as the new interior minister, and one woman, Nadia Hashem, as state minister for women's affairs.

In the new line-up, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh retains his portfolio, veteran journalist Samih Maayatah becomes information minister and economist Suleiman Hafez takes up the finance post.

The king appointed Tarawneh on Thursday after accepting the resignation of Awn Khaswaneh, 62, an International Court of Justice judge who formed his cabinet last October to become the third premier of 2011.

The monarch instructed Tarawneh to form a government for "a limited transitional period" to implement reforms needed to hold elections before the end of 2012.

"It will be a government of reforms that embodies your majesty's vision to guarantee the holding of parliamentary elections," Tarawneh told the king in a letter, vowing to fight corruption.

"The electoral law is the backbone of political reform. My government will work with MPs to produce a law that will meet the demands of all Jordanians and build the foundation for parliamentary governments."

Khasawneh came under sharp criticism for proposing in April an electoral law that has been seen as a blow to pro-reform movements, including the powerful opposition Islamists.

The long-awaited draft scraps a contested one-person-one-vote system and increases a quota for women MPs. But it has angered political parties for limiting the number of seats allocated to them.

The king accused Khaswaneh of being too slow, telling him in a letter on Thursday that Jordan "cannot afford any delay in achieving the needed reform."

Jordan has seen persistent Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations almost every week since January 2011, demanding sweeping reforms and a tougher fight against corruption.

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