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Middle East
Jordan's king sacks cabinet
Monarch asks ex-army general to form new government in the wake of streets protests over prices and reforms.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2011 13:38 GMT
Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets inspired by the protests in Tunisia and Egypt [GALLO/GETTY]

King Abdullah II of Jordan has sacked his government in the wake of street protests and has asked an ex-army general to form a new cabinet, Jordan's Royal Palace has announced.

King Abdullah's move on Tuesday comes after thousands of Jordanians took to the streets, inspired by anti-government protests in Tunisia and Egypt. Jordanians had been calling for the resignation of prime minister Samir Rifai who is blamed for a rise in fuel and food prices and slowed political reforms.

A Jordanian official said the monarch officially accepted the resignation of Rifai, a wealthy politician and former court adviser, and asked Marouf Bakhit to form a new cabinet.   

"[Bakhit] is a former general and briefly ambassador to Israel who has been prime minister before. He's someone who would be seen as a safe pair of hands," Rosemary Hollis, professor of Middle East policy studies at London's City University, said.

"I wouldn't see it as a sign of liberalisation. With his previous premiership, he talked the talk of reform but little actually happened," she said.

Protests have spread across Jordan in the last few weeks, with demonstrators blaming corruption spawned by free-market reforms for the plight of the country's poor.   

Many Jordanians hold successive governments responsible for a prolonged recession and rising public debt that hit a record $15bn this year in one of the Arab world's smallest economies, heavily dependent on foreign aid.

Source:
Agencies
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