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MIDDLE EAST
Government of Jordan Is Dismissed by the King
By RANYA KADRI and ETHAN BRONNEROCT. 17, 2011
AMMAN, Jordan — King Abdullah II of Jordan, under growing pressure to accelerate political reform and genuine anticorruption measures, fired his government on Monday, just eight months after doing so for similar reasons in the early days of the Arab Spring.
In a statement announcing the change, King Abdullah said, “We have accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit, taking into consideration the views of the various sectors of society as well as a letter we have received from the parliamentary majority.”
Marouf al-Bakhit, left, was replaced as prime minister. Jamal Nasrallah/European Pressphoto Agency
Mr. Bakhit was seen by many as dragging his feet on political changes. His government also angered Jordanians with a new law that made it a crime, punishable by a steep fine, to falsely accuse someone of corruption. The law is seen as an infringement on the news media and free speech.
Also of concern are episodes of lawlessness, especially by groups thought to be working with the government, who have attacked opposition gatherings. The most recent example was on Saturday when an anticorruption conference, attended by opposition figures and members of four prominent tribes, was disrupted by attackers firing guns and throwing stones.
The headline in the independent newspaper Al-Arab al-Youm on Sunday was “Security Tensions Are Cast Upon the Kingdom.”
Awn Khasawneh, a judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and a former chief of the royal court. Ali Jarekji/Reuters
The new prime minister is Awn Khasawneh, 61, who has been a judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague since 2000. He is also a former chief of the royal court and was a legal adviser to Jordan when it negotiated its peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
A spokesman for retired military service members, Gen. Ali Habashneh, said, “Awn Khasawneh is known for his integrity, and has no corruption issues in his past like the rest, and more importantly, he has very high legal capabilities, which is essential now in this phase of constitutional amendments, laws and legislation which will define the future of Jordan.”
Amer al-Sabaileh, a political analyst, said: “There was a need for change. Popular discontent has risen as a result of the government’s failure to achieve a great change on the street. The gap between the government and the street opposition was expanding.”
The king also appointed Maj. Gen. Faisal al-Shobaki, a longtime intelligence operative, as intelligence chief.
Ranya Kadri reported from Amman, and Ethan Bronner from Jerusalem.
A version of this article appears in print on October 18, 2011, on Page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: Government of Jordan Is Dismissed by the King. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe
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