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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Middle East

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King Abdullah Fires His Cabinet Ahead of Demos

February 1, 2011 - 9:11 AM | by: Mike Tobin

In the morning, Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi told me that King Abdullah is very proactive about the reforms his citizens want. Before the sun set, Safadi confirmed he was out of a job. “I’m going to have a drink,” he said jokingly.

As King Abdullah accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai, 31 cabinet ministers were fired. Safadi insisted even after he was canned that this was not the King capitulating to the pressure brought by the street demonstrations. “I don’t think anyone is going to see this as a capitulation to any one party, because everybody knows that party that has the most support in Jordan is the King,” said Safadi.

In accepting the resignation of Rifai, King Abdullah appointed Marouf Al- Bakhit to put together a new cabinet or government. The letter accepting Rifai’s resignation and designating Al-Bakhai insists that the new government will take “practical steps” to bring about “genuine political reform.”

However, the measure falls short of demands by Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood who have been organizing the demonstrations.  They are calling for concrete measures to combat corruption. A prominent point in their demands is a change to the constitution, which would remove the King’s power to appoint the Prime Minister and the Cabinet (or Government).  They want to see the ministers decided by either popular vote or by the Majority party in Parliament.  That change would move considerable power away from the King.

The royal designation of a new Prime Minister defies that demand.  So, the Islamists are moving ahead with plans for street protests in Amman on Wednesday.