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Jordan’s king fires cabinet amid protests

world Updated: Feb 02, 2011 01:06 IST

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Jordan’s King Abdullah II fired his government Tuesday in the wake of street protests and asked an ex-prime minister to form a new cabinet, ordering him to launch immediate political reforms.

The dismissal follows several large protests across Jordan inspired by similar demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai, who is blamed for a rise in fuel and food prices and slowed political reforms. A Royal Palace statement said Abdullah accepted Rifai’s resignation tendered earlier Tuesday.

The king named Marouf al-Bakhit as his prime minister-designate, instructing him to “undertake quick and tangible steps for real political reforms, which reflect our vision for comprehensive modernisation and development in Jordan,” the palace statement said.

Al-Bakhit previously served as Jordan’s premier from 2005-2007. The king also stressed that economic reform was a “necessity to provide a better life for our people, but we won't be able to attain that without real political reforms, which must increase popular participation in the decision-making.”

He asked al-Bakhit for a “comprehensive assessment ... to correct the mistakes of the past.” He did not elaborate. The statement said Abdullah also demanded an “immediate revision” of laws governing politics and public freedoms.

When he ascended to the throne in 1999, King Abdullah vowed to press ahead with political reforms initiated by his late father, King Hussein. Those reforms paved the way for the first parliamentary election in 1989 after a 22-year gap, the revival of a multiparty system and the suspension of martial law in effect since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

But little has been done since. Though laws were enacted to ensure greater press freedom, journalists are still prosecuted for expressing opinion or for comments considered slanderous of the king and the royal family.

Pakistan may face Tunisia-style unrest

new delhi: Food insecurity caused by last year’s devastating floods in Pakistan can eventually lead to social unrest similar to that seen in Tunisia, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) has warned.

Six months on, Pakistan is still reeling under the affects of the floods have left 11 million people homeless and devastated hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops in the traditional food-basket regions of Sindh and Punjab.

IFRC president Tadateru Konoe said some agricultural areas were still submerged, and resulting price rises and growing food insecurity could destabilise the country.