Jordan's King Abdullah II dismisses Prime Minister

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011
King Abdullah II

King Abdullah II

The King of Jordan has dismissed his government and named a new Prime Minister, as anti-government protests continue around the Arab world.

King Abdullah II has asked his new Prime Minister, Marouf Al Bakhit, to move the country along the path to democracy.

He has replaced Samir Rifai in the role, but it does not necessarily represent a break with the past – Mr Al Bakhit was Prime Minister from 2005 to 2007.

A palace statement said Mr Al Bakhit has been told to "take practical steps, quick and concrete, to launch a process of genuine political reform, comprehensive development, and take genuine steps towards strengthening democracy."

The move follows protests in the Jordanian capital, Amman, last week, understood to be inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. There have been a number of demonstrations in key Jordanian cities in recent weeks calling for economic and political change.

Many of them have been directed by Jordan’s Islamist opposition, which has called for limits to the king’s power. Jordan’s constitution, adopted nearly 60 years ago, gives King Abdullah the exclusive power to appoint prime ministers.

Jordan, which borders Israel, signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1994 and the two countries have enjoyed largely strong relations ever since.

Last updated: 2:02pm, February 1 2011