Jordanian Prime Minister reshuffles cabinet months after government formation | News on the coronavirus pandemic

Officials appointed include successors to the Home Affairs and Justice Ministers after their resignation last week over a COVID-related violation.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh has reshuffled his cabinet in an upheaval that comes less than five months after his government was formed.

The decision was announced via a decree issued by the royal court in a statement on Sunday.

Among the 10 new ministers appointed by al-Khasawneh were Brigadier General Mazen al-Faraya, appointed Minister of the Interior, and Ahmed Ziyadat, responsible for heading the justice ministry.

The pair’s predecessors were invited to to resign last week, after reports they attended a dinner party at a restaurant in the capital, Amman, which violated coronavirus restrictions their own ministries are supposed to enforce.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi was not replaced while the ministers responsible for the main economic portfolios also remained largely in their posts, with the exception of the ministers of transport and agriculture.

IMF reforms

Al-Khasawneh, a veteran former diplomat and palace aide, was appointed in October last year by King Abdullah to restore public confidence in handling the coronavirus health crisis and defuse anger over disability successive governments to keep their promises of prosperity and fight corruption. .

Jordan is witnessing a nearly two-month outbreak of infections due to a more contagious variant of the virus amid growing discontent over deteriorating economic conditions and restrictions on civil liberties under emergency laws.

The reshuffle aims to accelerate reforms guided by the International Monetary Fund, seen as crucial for the country’s economic recovery from the blow of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Parliament passed a 9.9 billion dinar ($ 14 billion) budget which, according to Finance Minister Mohamad al-Ississ, was aimed at maintaining fiscal prudence to help ensure financial stability and to contain a record $ 45 billion in public debt. Al-Ississ negotiated a four-year IMF program worth $ 1.3 billion, a sign of confidence in Jordan’s reform program.

The economy experienced its worst contraction – 3% – in decades last year, hit by lockdowns, border closures and a sharp drop in tourism during the pandemic. However, both the government and the IMF are forecasting a rebound of similar magnitude this year.

Officials say Jordan’s commitment to IMF reforms and investor confidence in the improved outlook have helped the country maintain stable sovereign ratings at a time when other emerging markets were downgraded.

Meanwhile, Oraib Rantawi, director of the Al Quds Center for Political Studies in Amman, said the reshuffle raised eyebrows.

“I think the time has come, as the nation’s centenary approaches, to reconsider the way governments are formed in Jordan … otherwise Jordan will remain the world record holder for the number of former ministers.” , he told AFP news agency. .

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