Jordan premier to announce cabinet

Jordan's prime minister-designate Adnan Badran is preparing to announce a new pro-reform government and is facing calls to scrap a controversial union bill.

    King Abd Allah has asked Adnan Badran (L) to speed reforms

    Badran, a prominent academic and former minister, completed the formation of his government and ministers on Thursday, a senior official said.
    He began consultations to choose a new line-up on Tuesday after he was asked by King Abd Allah to form a government to replace the two-year-old administration of prime minister Faisal al-Fayiz "to accelerate reform". 
    "There are no limits to social and economic development," Badran said during a courtesy call on parliament where he met several MPs, the state-run Petra news agency reported. 

    "The government believes in cooperation between the executive and legislative powers and reform must focus on dialogue in the national interest of Jordan," Badran said.

    Freedom of speech

    His remarks came as US-based Human Rights Watch urged Badran in a letter to withdraw a union bill adopted by the previous government in March that it charged would muzzle freedom on speech.

    Former premier Faisal al-Fayiz was
    criticised for lacklustre performance

    "A draft law before Jordan's parliament would close a window of free expression and assembly for the more than 120,000 members of the country's professional associations," the New York-based group said.

    "This law is a naked attempt to silence the vocal and often critical public debate that the professional associations foster," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said.
    "It is a major step backwards in Jordan's commitment to human rights, and parliament should reject it at once."

    Pressure groups

    The bill, aimed at regulating unions and barring them from engaging in politics, stipulates that professional associations must obtain written approval from the Interior Ministry to hold public gatherings or meetings.

    "Reform must focus on dialogue in the national interest of Jordan"

    Adnan Badran,
    prime minister-designate

    Most of Jordan's 12 professional unions are dominated by religious conservatives and opposition groups staunchly opposed to the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty and to US policies in the Middle East and Iraq.

    After a one-day heated debate in mid-March, parliament - which is in recess until October - referred the bill to its legal committee.
    Badran's nomination followed criticism of the Fayiz government by Abd Allah over its performance at an Arab summit last month, and comes as Jordan is under pressure from Western allies, namely the US, for failing to carry out satisfactory reforms, political sources said.
    Badran said he expects his cabinet to be smaller than the 27-minister Fayiz government with about 23 or 25 ministers, including four women




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