Jordan's king bows to demand for elected Cabinets

Jordan King Abdullah II
Amman (Jordan), June 13: Jordan's king bowed to popular demands for elected Cabinets but gave no timetable, saying that sudden change could lead to "chaos and unrest" in this country that has averted the turmoil seen in other Arab nations.

It was the first time that King Abdullah II has made such a concession to Jordanians, who have taken to the streets during six months of pro-democracy protests to demand a greater political say in this key US Arab ally.

Many Jordanians want the king to loosen his absolute grip on power, which includes appointing prime ministers and Cabinets.

In the televised speech yesterday marking his 12th year as Jordan's ruler, Abdullah said that future Cabinets will be formed according to an elected parliamentary majority.

He did not say when the change would take place, but suggested that it would come after relevant laws are in place.

Political analyst Labib Kamhawi said the king's remarks were a "step forward, but we have to wait and see the final outcome."

"The speech was positive on critical issues like electing a prime minister in the future," added Kamhawi, who is usually an outspoken critic of the king's policies. "But we want to see more being done for wider civil liberties and less security interference in the affairs of the state."

The king also promised further changes without elaborating, saying that a royal commission is now exploring "possible amendments" to the constitution appropriate for Jordan's "present and future."


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