Last Updated: Mon Oct 17, 2011 18:25 pm (KSA) 15:25 pm (GMT)

Jordan’s King Abdullah sacks cabinet, names international judge prime minister

Jordanians rally in Amman on Oct. 15 in support of King Abdullah’s reformist measures. (Photo by Reuters)
Jordanians rally in Amman on Oct. 15 in support of King Abdullah’s reformist measures. (Photo by Reuters)

Jordan’s King Abdullah has sacked Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit, a conservative former army general and asked International Court of Justice judge Awn Khasawneh to form a new government, a government official said.

Khasawneh, 61, was a former chief of the royal court and a legal advisor to Jordan’s team that negotiated the peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Bakhit’s government, which came to power in February after King Abdullah sacked an unpopular prime minister after pro-reform street protests inspired by Arab uprisings, has been criticized for its inept handling of domestic problems, including preparations for municipal elections that were to be held later this year.

The move also includes a shakeup of the powerful mukhabarat intelligence agency, whose head Mohammed al Raqqad, has been replaced by Faisal al-Shobaki, a long time operative drawn from the ranks of the agency.

Parliament is in recess, but more than 60 MPs on Sunday signed a letter to the king, criticizing the work of Bakhit. The document has not been made public.

The king also on Monday appointed Major-General Feisal Shobaki as intelligence chief, replacing Mohamad Raqqad, who has held the position since 2008.

In August, the king held meetings with various Jordanian groups and spoke of a “tsunami” of change in top state posts to enhance his reform drive, according to those who attended the gatherings.

Sources have said the king is planning a shake-up at the royal palace as well as in the security departments.

Jordan has been the scene of protests since January to demand sweeping economic and political reform.

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