Jordan's Parliament Gives New Government Record Vote of Confidence
Jordan's 80-member chamber of deputies Thursday voted overwhelmingly to support the new government of Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb, with a record 74 votes to six.
The vote concluded four days of often heated debate by members of the lower house, who focused on the weak state of the economy, the status of Jordanians of Palestinian origin and inter-Arab relations.
"This is the highest confidence ever granted a government in the history of Jordan's parliamentary life," MP Mahmoud Kharabshe told AFP after voting in favor of the government.
Parliament speaker Abdel Hadi Majali, in a speech congratulating the prime minister, noted that the deputies had cast their votes overwhelmingly for a government that, unlike past ones, "has no parliamentary representation.”
"I congratulated this respected government and wish it well ... as it carries on its work at a very delicate time in the history of the country and the region," Majali said in a live television broadcast.
Abu Ragheb, who was loudly cheered by the deputies, pledged to do his best to accomplish his mission.
"My government will do its best and work seriously to match the confidence bestowed on us by the leader of the country and the representatives of the people to fulfill our mission," Abu Ragheb said.
The Abu Ragheb government, the second since King Abdullah II ascended the throne in February 1999, replaced in June the cabinet of Abdel Rauf Rawabdeh, blamed for slowness in applying the economic reforms sought by the monarch.
The new 29-member cabinet includes liberals, technocrats, moderates, nationalists, Islamists and 10 ministers of Palestinian origin, as well as one woman.
Its key mission is to strengthen Jordan's economy, which is facing a foreign debt of seven billion dollars and huge unemployment among its largely young population.
In his policy statement to parliament on Sunday Abu Ragheb reiterated Jordan's refusal to accept any more Palestinian refugees than the 1.4 million who already live in the kingdom.
He also pledged to shake the economy out of its lethargy by pushing forward with a series of projects to attract foreign investment, such as the creation of a special economic zone in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba -- AMMAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)