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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Jordan to get new prime minister
King Abdullah of Jordan (archive)
King Abdullah is seen as a key Western ally in the region
King Abdullah of Jordan has asked one of his ministers to form a new cabinet tasked with modernising his state.

Faisal al-Fayez, currently minister for the royal court, was asked to form a new government which would secure a "bright future" for Jordanians.

The outgoing cabinet of Ali Abul-Ragheb was accused of "weaknesses".

Under Mr Abul-Ragheb, the economy began to recover but opposition parties accused his administration of corruption and heavy-handedness.

Correspondents describe Mr Fayez, 51, as a political moderate, known for his support of Jordan's close ties with the United States and Israel.

He studied in Britain and has a degree in international relations from Boston University.

He is a member of the prominent Bani Sakher tribe and is said to enjoy close ties with the royal family.

Political reform

"We look forward to a change in government because it is time to move our vision [for Jordan] into practice," said King Abdullah.

Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abul-Ragheb at an economic forum in Amman this month
The outgoing government worked to open up the economy
Thanking the outgoing government, he noted that it had suffered from "some weaknesses in its performance and lack of co-ordination among its members".

The king said that political reform was among his priorities and the new cabinet would draft "an advanced political parties law and a democratic election law".

Officials said work on forming the new cabinet would start immediately and it was due to be completed by Saturday, when it would be sworn in in front of the king in the capital, Amman.

A source who spoke to the AFP news agency earlier said the new cabinet would have fewer ministers and would feature younger ministers with more women members.

The current cabinet has only one woman in it.

On Monday, Jordan's Queen Rania told an international forum in Amman that more had to be done to secure women's rights in law.

Mixed record

Supporters of Mr Abul-Ragheb's government say it boosted the economy at a time of crisis in the Middle East.

He was appointed in June 2000 with a mandate to stimulate economic growth and attract foreign investment.

Since then, he reshuffled his cabinet six times, the latest occasion being this summer after a parliamentary election.

Conservative, liberal and Islamic opposition parties have accused his administration of fostering corruption and curbing civil liberties - charges the government denied.


SEE ALSO:
Jordan hopes for economic upturn
07 Jul 03  |  Business
Country profile: Jordan
11 Sep 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Jordan
07 Aug 03  |  Country profiles


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