Jordan's King Abdullah on Saturday endorsed a government reshuffle that brought in 11 new ministers, and dissolved the country's parliament in a move that could pave the way for legislative elections.
Although the reshuffle had been expected for weeks, the dissolution of the Lower House of Parliament came as a surprise after press reports that the current body's term would be extended one more year.
The cabinet reshuffle brought in 11 new ministers as follows, according to the official Petra news agency:
1- Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and EnvironmentAbdel Razzag Tbeishat
2- Minister of Information Saleh Qallab
3- Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Taleb Rifai
4- Minister of State Abdel Raheem Ekur
5- Minister of State for Legal Affairs Abd Shakhanbeh
6- Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Ahmed Helayyel
7- Minister of Youth and Sports Ma'mun Mohammad Nureddin
8- Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Mohammad Ali Battayneh
9- Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazem Al Nasser
10- Minister of Health Faleh Al Nasser
11- Minister of Transport Nader Al Thahabi
12- Minister of Agriculture Mahmud Ayed Dweiri
13- Minister of State Mosa Khalaf Ma'ani
Former information minister Taleb Rifai replaced retiring Tourism Minister Akel Beltaji. Abdel Raheem Ekur, who became state minister, is a former minister of municipal and rural affairs and environment.
The reshuffle and the royal decree announcing that Parliament had been dissolved were announced almost simultaneously.
Jordan has a bi-cameral parliament, including a 40-seat Senate whose members are all appointed by the king. The fate of a new senate will follow future legislative elections, for the lower body, also known as the House of Representatives.
Independent MP Khalil Haddadin told AFP the measure "means that elections should be held on time and we should prepare for them."
His sentiment was echoed by another deputy, Hamade Faraaneh, who described the dissolution of parliament as "a very good step," which also paved the way for legislative elections in the fall.
In recent days, the Jordanian press was rife with speculation that the legislative elections expected to take place by the end of the year would be postponed, and that the current Parliament's term would be extended one more year.
Jordan's last legislative elections were held in 1997. They were boycotted by the country's influential Islamic Action Front Party -- the political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood -- which protested a lack of openness in the voting process.
The Islamists have not yet announced whether or not they will participate in future elections – Albawaba.com
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