11 new ministers join Bisher Al-Khasahneh's cabinet, three of them women

Jordan's King Abdullah reshuffles government for fifth time in two years

AP/ALEX BRANDON - Roi Abdullah II de Jordanie

Jordan's King Abdullah II on Thursday pushed through a new reshuffle of Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh's cabinet, the fifth since its formation in 2020. The Hashemite monarch's reign has so far seen 14 prime ministers and more than 20 governments.  

Abdullah II confirmed rumours of changes in the executive by issuing a royal decree announcing the replacement of the eight ministers who resigned on Wednesday, according to the state news agency Petra. 

Two portfolios have disappeared and up to 11 new ministers have joined the cabinet, three of them women. Nancy Namrouqa as secretary of state for legal affairs, Zeina Toukan as minister of planning and international cooperation and the director general of the Jordanian Investment Fund, Kholoud Saqqaf, as minister of investment.

El primer ministro jordano, Bisher al-Khasawneh, durante una conferencia de prensa conjunta con el primer ministro libanés, Najib Mikati PHOTO/REUTERS

The changes do not affect the finance, interior and foreign ministries; the key portfolios will remain in the same hands. In addition, veteran diplomat and royal adviser Al-Khasawneh, who replaced the resigned Omar al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist and education minister, two years ago, will retain his position as head of government. 

The new cabinet members were sworn in at a ceremony on Thursday morning at the Al Husseiniya Palace in the capital, Amman, which was attended by Al-Khasawneh himself. Abdullah II presided over the ceremony. 

Jordan is a constitutional monarchy in which the king holds executive and legislative powers. The fourth monarch of the Hashemite dynasty has the power to appoint and dismiss the prime minister, and his prerogatives also include the power to dissolve the bicameral National Assembly whenever he sees fit.

El secretario general, Jens Stoltenberg, con el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Jordania, Ayman Safadi REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED

The reshuffle sends a message of dynamism to the public. Abdullah II aims to improve government action in a context of global crisis. Poverty in Jordan is a growing phenomenon and the unemployment rate is over 25 per cent, but corruption is the biggest national problem. The government has tried to combat corruption through the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC), but attempts have been diluted by the slowness of the judiciary. 

The change also coincides with the implementation of the bulk of the economic reforms sponsored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The measures are intended to open the country to foreign investment, but a report issued in September by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is close to German social democracy, argues that, far from boosting the economy, the IMF has increased debt and sustained the budget deficit.