Jordan king reshuffles cabinet

Jordan's King Abdullah II has reshuffled the government, appointing a new finance minister to replace one criticised by a group of deputies for being too pro-Western.

    King Abdullah II also changed six junior ministers

    The official news agency Petra on Sunday said Adel al-Qudah, a long serving bureaucrat, has been named finance minister to replace Bassem Awadallah, who resigned last month after acknowledging pressure from tribal deputies who threatened a rare no-confidence motion against the government.

    Six other junior ministers were also changed.

    Marwan al-Muasher, an advocate of liberal economic reforms, was appointed as deputy prime minister. No replacement was named for his former position as senior palace aide.

    Although Washington has praised Jordan for selling state assets and backing its invasion of Iraq, critics of the government say poverty is rising and the pro-Western elite in government has ignored tribal sensitivities.

    The country's indigenous Jordanian tribes have formed the backbone of support for the monarchy.

    The government, which spends an estimated 15% of gross domestic product on the military, expects the economy to grow 5% in 2005 compared with 7.5% in 2004 as Jordan continues to serve as a hub for Iraq and sees inflows of expatriate and Gulf capital.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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