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Major re-shuffle on the cards for Jordanian government

Published January 15th, 2017 - 01:00 GMT
Jordan's Prime Minister Hani Mulki speaks to the media after his swearing-in ceremony. (AFP/File)
Jordan's Prime Minister Hani Mulki speaks to the media after his swearing-in ceremony. (AFP/File)

Prime Minister Hani Mulki is expected to introduce a major reshuffle to his Cabinet Sunday, informed sources told The Jordan Times.

Mulki was expected to make changes to a minimum of 10 portfolios in his 30-strong Cabinet, which was formed on September 28, 2016, following the September 20 parliamentary elections.

His first Cabinet was sworn in on June 1, 2016.

The sources said the reshuffle would affect major portfolios, including those held by deputy prime ministers.

One portfolio in question is that held by Interior Minister Salameh Hammad.

An informed parliamentary source said this particular portfolio has to undergo change as a deadline for a vote of no confidence involving Hammad ends today.

The source noted that the government had asked the House to delay the vote, a move interpreted by observers as part of a deal between the executive and legislative branches to ensure a win-win situation, saving face for lawmakers, as the motion was not expected to meet success at a time when legislators are expected to debate the draft state budget law.

The source confirmed the speculations, explaining that the 10-day constitutional deadline for the submission of the no-confidence vote comes to an end Sunday.

To evade a constitutional dilemma, he told The Jordan Times, the House decided to delay a morning meeting to the afternoon "to extend the deadline" and give the premier a chance to be prepared with the changes he will make.

The ousting of Hammad seems inevitable under this scenario.

Another informed source confirmed the reshuffle, revealing that the change would involve no fewer than 10 portfolios.

He added that the outgoing ministers submitted their resignations during a Cabinet meeting on Saturday at the request of the prime minister.

According to the source, the premier attributed the need for the reshuffle at the meeting to the "lack of harmony" and "obvious lack of coordination" among members of his team.

This will be the second reshuffle to Mulki's current Cabinet, which witnessed the resignation of transport minister Malek Haddad one day after his appointment "for personal reasons". He was replaced by Hussein Al Souob.

Talk about the pending reshuffle accelerated after the government's request that the Lower House to delay the vote of no-confidence in Hammad.

A group of 48 MPs signed a memorandum and submitted it to the House speaker's office in December, requesting that the Chamber move with a motion of no confidence against the minister.

The signatories of the memo, initiated by Karak MP Musleh Tarawneh, cited Hammad's "ill-handling" of the security incidents that erupted in the southern governorate last month.

In the security operations against "terrorist outlaws" in Karak, over 140km south of Amman, last month, 11 security personnel and three civilians died.

Five extremists were killed and another was arrested.

"If the premier does not come up with the re-shuffle, we are obliged to take the vote against Hammad," the parliamentary source said.

A total of 66 votes out of 130 are required to withdraw confidence from a minister, according to the Constitution.

By Raed Omari

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