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Jordan’s King to Consult Parliament to Choose New Prime Minister

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said he will consult parliament before choosing a new prime minister as the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the biggest opposition group, called for further political reform.

The monarch will engage in “consultations over the government’s formation with the lower house and parliamentary blocs,” the Royal Court said in an e-mailed statement today. The new government should pursue the reform of laws, including those on “illicit gains, civil service retirement and income tax, along with the landlords and tenants law,” the king told parliament in Amman today.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour submitted his resignation Jan. 29 following legislative elections won by the king’s loyalists. Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group, boycotted the polls in protest at the electoral law which it says favors the king’s supporters. The opposition groups have organized street protests to call for constitutional monarchy, an elected government, more political reform and an end to corruption.

“In any democratic country, the majority bloc at parliament selects a prime minister without resorting to any superior authority,” Hamzah Mansour, secretary general of the Islamic Action Front, said by phone after the king’s speech. “The king knows that there are no genuine and effective parliamentary blocs in this parliament that represent the overwhelming majority of the people.”

Street Protests

The king’s decision to consult parliament can only work “if there is a national consensus on the elections law that led to this parliament,” he said. “This mechanism is not what we want, we want a comprehensive reform process that starts with radically changing the country’s elections law.”

“We want the government to have full jurisdiction over the state affairs without any interference,” he said.

Jordan, one of the smallest economies in the Middle East, imports more than 90 percent of its oil and relies on foreign investment and grants to support its budget and current-account deficits. The kingdom faces challenges including economic ones from lower aid from abroad, an influx of Syrian refugees, street protests about increasing prices and a rise of Islamist-led governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

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