x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Jordan PM quits six months into reform mandate

King Abdullah II replaces Awn Khasawneh, who was in Turkey, with Fayez Tarawneh, 63, who was prime minister and royal court chief in the late 1990s.

AMMAN // Jordan's Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh resigned yesterday, barely six months after forming a reform-mandated government to bring in political and economic change in the country.

King Abdullah II replaced Mr Khasawneh, who was in Turkey, with Fayez Tarawneh, 63, who was prime minister and royal court chief in the late 1990s.

The king "asked Fayez Tarawneh to form a new government after the resignation of Khasawneh today," a senior official said.

Mr Khasawneh, 62, an International Court of Justice judge, formed his cabinet in October, becoming the third premier in 2011, saying he had "received guarantees from the king to have full sovereignty as prime minister".

It was unclear why Mr Khasawneh quit but news reports quoted sources as saying he was unhappy that the king decided to extend parliament's ordinary session until June 25.

"Regardless of how he quit, this showed the sovereignty which the prime minister talked about does not exist in Jordan," said Zaki Bani Rshied, head of the political bureau of the powerful Islamic Action Front.

"It revealed the level of power struggle within the state. Unfortunately, the security services and a siege mentality have won."

Bani Rshied, whose party is the political arm of the country's Muslim Brotherhood, warned that "the coming phase will be full of political uncertainty".

"All that talk about reform that we have been hearing was nothing. It has been proven that there is no will to introduce reforms. The current atmosphere shows that the country is heading towards more failure," he said

Following his appointment, Mr Khasawneh vowed to fight corruption, and analysts warned at the time that his government could be a last-ditch shot at reform.

He won a comfortable vote of confidence for his government from parliament in December after pledging to push ahead with reforms.

But Mr Khasawneh came under sharp criticism for proposing an electoral law that has been seen as a blow to pro-reform movements, including the powerful opposition Islamists.