Amman, Feb 9 (DPA) Jordan’s King Abdullah II Wednesday issued a decree approving the formation of a new 27-member cabinet led by ex-premier Marouf Bakhit.
The new cabinet replaces the government of former prime minister Samir Rifai, which the monarch sacked last week after a series of protests inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
In his designation letter to Bakhit, King Abdullah underlined the importance of carrying out “real political and economic reforms”. These include amending the controversial election law that prompted the country’s main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF,) to boycott the Nov 9 elections.
A group of 36 tribesmen sent King Abdullah a letter earlier this week calling for serious reforms, warning that the uprising seen in Egypt and Tunisia would reach Jordan “sooner or later”.
They in particular called for the dissolution of both houses of parliament, amendments to the electoral law, changes to foreign policy and bringing corrupt officials to justice.
Four key figures from the outgoing government retained their portfolios. They include the foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, the interior minister, Saad Srour, and the finance minister, Mohammad Abu Hammour.
But Bakhit added new ministers with left-leaning and Pan-Arab inclinations, including Taher Adwan, editor-in-chief of Alarab Alyawm independent newspaper, who was appointed as minister of state for media affairs.
Prominent columnist Tareq Masarweh was picked as minister of culture, while the former chairman of the Jordan Bar Association, Hussein Megalli, was appointed justice minister.
The Brotherhood and the IAF refused to join Bakhit’s government, saying they preferred to remain in opposition while genuine reforms are implemented.
Islamists, independent politicians and local columnists have cast doubts on the ability of Bakhit to carry out the reforms as ordered by the king, given the allegations of vote rigging that marred the 2007 elections, when he was last in power.
The state-funded National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) then acknowledged that certain “irregularities” were detected in the polling process.