Jordan’s king appoints new prime minister

Move comes a day after 70 of 120 parliamentarians called on Abdullah to sack leader over lack of reforms.

Bakhit, appointed in February, was criticised for making slow progress on a political-reforms package [EPA]

Jordan’s King Abdullah has sacked Maaruf Bakhit, the country’s prime minister, and asked Awn Khaswaneh, an international jurist, to head a new government, government officials say.

Bakhit had been widely perceived as making slow progress on a political-reforms package.

Monday’s announcement came one day after a majority of parliamentarians – 70 out of 120 – called on Abdullah to sack him.

Bakhit’s administration had been criticised for its “inept” handling of domestic problems, including preparations for municipal elections that are due to be held later this year.

Khaswaneh, the new PM pick, is a former royal court chief and legal adviser to Jordan’s peace negotiators [Reuters]

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from Amman, said many Jordanian politicians were “upset that he had been delaying reforms”.

“The now-removed prime minister is a former army general and has the instincts of a conservative army general,” she said.

“He said he needed more time to implement reforms – and even the king has said he has been frustrated with the pace of change.

“As for these members of parliament, what they are most want are reforms that apply to them. One of them would be that they would actually get to choose their prime minister as opposed to having them appointed by the king.”

Bakhit’s government took office in February after Abdullah removed an unpopular prime minister from office following street protests demanding political reforms.

Monday’s move also includes a shake-up of the powerful Mukhabarat intelligence agency, whose head, Mohammed al-Raqqad, has been replaced by Faisal al-Shobaki, a long time operative drawn from the ranks of the agency.

Khaswaneh, 61, who has been a member of the International Court of Justice since 2000, is a former chief of the royal court and legal adviser to Jordan’s team that negotiated a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies