The king asked former minister of higher education Adnan Badran to form a new government to replace al-Fayiz's two-year-old cabinet, Jordanian officials said on Tuesday.

Badran, who is in his 60s, held high academic posts, serving as president of the private Jordanian Philadelphia University and was a former Unesco deputy director-general.

Jordanian officials said the new government was expected to

accelerate IMF-guided free market reforms and to maintain traditional support for US policies in the region.

 

Under the Jordanian constitution, the monarch appoints the prime minister and the cabinet is appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the monarch.

 

Aljazeera's correspondent in Jordan, Yasir Abu Hilala, said outgoing prime minister al-Fayiz will become head of the Royal Diwan while former foreign minister Marwan al-Muashar will assume the post of minister of the Royal Court, replacing Samir al-Rifaai.

 

No surprise

 

Basim Awad Allah, who was planning minister in al-Fayiz's government, will take over the finance portfolio.

 

Many professional associations
act as political pressure groups

The changes extended to the Royal Diwan Information Office as well.

 

Rania Ata Allah, until now director of the Queen's Office, has been appointed director of the Royal Diwan Information Office, Abu Hilala said.

 

He said the reshuffle did not come as a surprise.

 

Jordanian political figures had been debating the necessity of cabinet changes in light of the resentment bred by standoffs involving the kingdom's professional unions, pressure groups and opposition parties.

 

The reshuffle appeared to be in response to strong expectations for radical changes in government to meet internal as well as external demands for reforms.

 

Dissatisfaction

 

Even King Abd Allah II has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the government's performance in both domestic and foreign spheres, Aljazeera's correspondent added.

 

On the economic front, Jordan faces challenges that include fiscal adjustment to reduce the budget deficit, broader investment incentives to promote job-creating ventures, and the encouragement of tourism.

 

Incidentally, Jordan held its first parliamentary elections in 22 years in November 1989, and political parties were not legalised until 1992.

 

King Abd Allah delayed the 2001 elections until 2003.