Jordan’s king said today he will give lawmakers a say in appointing the Cabinet,the latest reform aimed at heading off Arab Spring-style protests in the tiny,US-allied nation.
Under the current system,King Abdullah II has sole power to appoint all Cabinet members. The change,starting next year,will allow the elected 120-seat parliament to choose a prime minister,who the king can either appoint or veto.
If he vetoes,parliament will search for a consensus with the king on an alternative candidate,said the king’s adviser Amjad Adaileh.
The king called the change part of a “comprehensive democratic transformation” and “political reform.”
Jordan has weathered months of street protests calling for his powers to be curtailed. He is trying to appease activists by giving elected representatives a greater say in politics.
This year,Jordan changed 42 articles in the 60-year-old constitution,giving parliament a stronger role in decision-making.
The changes stipulate that a Cabinet that dissolves parliament must also resign. The changes did away with the king’s powers to summon parliament to convene or send the legislature into recess.
Parliament has already changed laws to allow protests and the formation of a teachers’ union,previously banned because successive governments feared that a politicised syndicate could influence students.
Last week,Abdullah replaced the widely-disliked prime minister,who was accused of curtailing reform,with a liberal judge who once served in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
On the same day he reshuffled Cabinet,the king appointed a new intelligence chief amid accusations that security forces were intimidating protesters and journalists.
Abdullah told lawmakers in an annual speech to parliament that the new arrangement will strengthen parliament’s role in politics by “involving the elected lawmakers,who represent the aspirations of the people,in the consultative process leading to the designation of prime ministers.”
The next legislature will also be elected under new laws,the king said.
The king,under pressure from protesters,has also promised to allow voters the right to eventually elect a prime minister who would then form a government. It is still unclear what the king’s role would be in the formation of such a Cabinet.
Parliamentary elections are likely to be held as early as June,but the timetable for when people can vote on a prime minister is also remains unclear.