Jordan PM faces popular revolt warning

Marouf Bakhit is trying to form a cabinet tasked with pushing through reforms to counter popular discontent.

Last Updated: Feb 06, 2011, 23:32 PM IST

Amman: Less than a week after his
appointment, Jordan`s new premier is facing potential
upheaval, with the Islamist opposition refusing to join his
government and key tribes warning of a popular revolt.

Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit is trying to form a cabinet
tasked with pushing through reforms to counter popular
discontent inspired by Tunisia`s revolt and ongoing
anti-regime protests in Egypt.

Bakhit has met MPs, senators, trade unions as well as the
powerful Islamist movement, which said today it has rejected
an offer to join the new government after questioning the
prime minister`s reformist credentials.

At the same time, 36 members of major tribes, which form
the backbone of the regime in Jordan, condemned the country`s
"crisis of authority" and corruption, warning of a popular
revolt.

"We did not discuss the details of the offer, but all
what I can say is that taking part in this government under
the current circumstances is out of the question," Hamzah
Mansur, leader of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the
political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan said.

"We are not asking for miracles. Our demands are
realistic, practical and do-able. We demand early general
polls in line with a new electoral law."

The tribal leaders joined the Islamists in their demands.
"We call for a modern electoral law based on
consultations with all political forces in Jordan, enhancing
freedoms and the formation of a national salvation government
to oversee a transparent parliamentary election," they said in
a joint statement.

The tribes represent nearly 40 per cent of the Jordanian
population, and their role is vital in the country`s politics
and stability.

Their loyalty to the Hashemite ruling family has been
crucial in times of crisis over the past century.

The IAF, which has been pushing for more political
reforms, boycotted the last general election in November in
protest at constituency boundaries set up under a new
electoral law, which it said over-represented rural areas
considered loyal to the government.

When Bakhit was appointed on Tuesday, the Islamist
opposition objected to King Abdullah II`s choice, saying the
premier is not a reformist. But Islamist leaders expressed
satisfaction on Friday after meeting both him and the king.

Bakhit said yesterday that his cabinet, which he hopes to
have in place by next Thursday would "include personalities
who are credible and close to the people."

The king instructed the 64-year-old career soldier and
former prime minister to undertake a sweeping programme of
political and economic reforms following weeks of street
protests.

Bakhit said yesterday that his cabinet, which he hopes to
have in place by next Thursday would "include personalities
who are credible and close to the people."

The king instructed the 64-year-old career soldier and
former prime minister to undertake a sweeping programme of
political and economic reforms following weeks of street
protests.

PTI