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Middle East

Jordan’s king appoints reformist PM

  • In this Monday, Oct. 8 photo released by the Jordanian Royal Palace, the new Jordanian ambassador to Israel, Walid Obeidat, left, shakes hands with Jordan's King Abdullah II, during a brief ceremony at the Royal court. (AP Photo/Yousef Allan, Jordanian Royal Palace)

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II appointed reformist politician Abdullah Ensour as prime minister Wednesday as the country prepared for the first post-Arab Spring parliamentary polls.

The monarch had dissolved Jordan’s tribally dominated parliament last week, halfway through its four-year term, paving the way for an early election that should be held within four months under constitutional reforms enacted last year.

The reforms, introduced under pressure from protests inspired by the wider Arab uprisings, curbed the monarch’s political powers.

The U.S.- and French-educated Ensour, who replaces Fayez al-Tarawneh, another veteran politician, has a long career as a lawmaker and has held senior government posts in successive administrations.

He was a strong supporter of the constitutional changes that Abdullah endorsed last year devolving some of his powers to parliament, which some opposition figures say had become sidelined, and restoring some executive powers that had shifted from the government to the palace and security forces.

“We are looking forward to a new parliament that will pave the way for the transformation toward parliamentary governments,” the king told Ensour in his letter of designation.

Although Jordan has seen protests by tribal and Islamist opposition demanding the king fight corruption and calling for wider political freedoms, the authorities have so far managed to contain wider discontent.

In Jordan, where the monarchy is a guarantor of stability among feuding tribes and acts as a balance between the country’s Palestinians and East Bank native Jordanians, no one wants to topple the king.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 11, 2012, on page 9.
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