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Jordan's king approves cabinet reshuffle

Arab World Materials 2 July 2011 16:19
Jordan's King Abdullah II on Saturday issued a decree approving a reshuffle of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit's cabinet, as the government has been under increasing pressure to resign.
Jordan's king approves cabinet reshuffle

Jordan's King Abdullah II on Saturday issued a decree approving a reshuffle of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit's cabinet, as the government has been under increasing pressure to resign, dpa reported.

Nine new ministers entered the cabinet, which was formed in February to replace that of former premier Samir Rifai, who quit after a series of pro-democracy demonstrations inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets in several cities after Friday prayers demanding the resignation of Bakhit's government and the dissolution of the lower house of parliament.

The demonstrations, called the "Friday of Shame," were held to express anger over the chamber's vote Monday that cleared Bakhit of corruption charges in connection with a casino deal in 2007, witnesses said.

At least four lawmakers resigned since, and 54 other deputies said they planned to boycott future sessions to express their disapproval of the vote that cleared the prime minister.

The new-look cabinet includes Mazen Saket as interior minister. He succeeds Saad Srour, who was criticized for his role in the fleeing of convicted tycoon Khalid Shahin to London in February.

Shahin was serving a three-year jail term after the State Security Court found him guilty of bribery in his bid to acquire a 1.2-billion-dollar contract for a refinery's expansion.

Officials then said that he was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment, which he was unable to get locally.

Ibrahim Omoush was assigned the justice portfolio, succeeding Hussein Megalli who resigned in May after saying he could not continue in the government because he found the "reform path closed."

Abdullatif Woraikat was appointed health minister, replacing Yassin Hosban who also resigned with Megalli.

At a press conference in May, the prime minister said that Megalli and Hosban were forced to resign for committing "mistakes" that enabled Shahin to leave the country.

Journalist Abdullah Abu Romman was picked as minister of state for media affairs, succeeding Taher Adwan, who quit last month over the government's plan to send to parliament draft laws that were "restrictive to the press and public freedoms."

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