Cairo’s shockwaves felt in Amman as king sacks government

By Catrina Stewart

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Independent

King Abdullah, a key ally of the US in the Middle East, had promised reform in the face of protests that provided the most serious challenge to his decade long reign

In a sign of further shockwaves reverberating across the Arab world, King Abdullah II of Jordan sacked his government in a surprise move after three weeks of street protests calling for economic and political reform.

The king dismissed Samir Rifai, the unpopular prime minister, after just over a year in the post, appointing the ex-premier and former army general Marouf Bakhit, whom many Jordanians see as a conservative hardliner with little appetite for reform.

The move was unexpected, not least because street protests in Jordan have remained manageable and largely peaceful, with protesters refraining from openly challenging the king. But Arab leaders have been badly rattled by the mass protests in the region.

The move is being seen as an attempt to head off further trouble from angry Jordanians, in the wake of the more violent unrest in Tunisia and Egypt.

King Abdullah’s decision to dissolve the government goes part of the way to meeting political demands of the opposition, which had called for the resignation of the cabinet, the right to elect the prime minister and an end to political appointments by the king. But it is unclear if it will be enough. Continue reading