Last updated: 11 February, 2013

Jordan palace chief in talks with MPs to choose prime minister

Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday tasked his chief of staff to begin consultations with newly elected MPs on a “new mechanism” to choose the next prime minister as part of a democratisation drive.

“The king has entrusted royal court chief Fayez Tarawneh to begin consultations with the lower house of parliament as a new mechanism to choose the prime minster and launch the experiment of parliamentary governments,” a palace statement said.

“Tarawneh will meet with parliamentary blocs and independents before conveying their viewpoints to the king in a transparent, neutral and accurate manner.”

So far, six blocs grouping 131 MPs have been formed in the 150-seat lower house, dominated by tribal leaders, pro-regime loyalists and independent businessmen.

The king, who enjoys constitutional power to name and sack prime ministers, told the opening of parliament on Sunday that he wants to reach “consensus” with MPs before appointing a premier as part of a “historic transformation” towards parliamentary government for the first time in Jordan.

The premier, the king said, should in turn consult parliamentary blocs and other forces as he selects his cabinet, seeking confidence “based on a policy statement resulting from the consultation process, and on four-year programmes.”

Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur submitted the resignation of his four-month-old cabinet to the king on January 29, six days after a general election boycotted by the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and others.

Analysts have said loyalist MPs would resist pressure for much-needed real political reform, while the Islamists insist that the concept of parliamentary government is still “elusive.”