Jordan's Prime Minister Resigns After Six Months

Jordan’s Prime Minister Awn al- Khasawneh resigned today, six months after King Abdullah appointed the former judge at the International Court of Justice with a mandate to speed political change in the country.

“His Royal Majesty, King Abdullah II, by royal decree, has accepted the resignation of the government of Awn al-Khasawneh, which was submitted today,” according to a statement on the official Petra news agency.

Khasawneh replaced Marouf Bakhit, a former army general who critics said was slow to implement political and economic changes following protests inspired by a wave of popular uprisings across the Arab world that ousted leaders in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya.

Jordan, one of the smallest economies in the Middle East, relies on foreign investment and grants to support its budget and current-account deficits. The government has increased public salaries and subsidies since pro-reform protests broke out.

Confirmation of Khasawneh’s resignation ends confusion following conflicting reports today. His departure was first reported by the Al-Quds Al-Araby newspaper and then swiftly denied in a statement on Petra. That denial was subsequently corrected by the official news agency.

King Abdullah changed the government twice last year and promised to ease restraints on political parties and allow the formation of governments based on a parliamentary majority, without saying when this could happen.

“Political reform characterizes the current phase in the journey of our beloved Jordan,” Abdullah told the prime minister in his designation letter last year.

Khasawneh is a former chief of the royal court and previously served as a legal adviser to the late King Hussein, father of the current monarch.

Jordan’s opposition, made up largely of Islamist groups that oppose peace with Israel as well as members of the communist party, staged protests last year to demand change and an end to corruption, inspired by the pro-democracy revolts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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