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Abdullah Ensour to head new government

By Hani Hazaimeh - Oct 10,2012 - Last updated at Oct 10,2012

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday entrusted Abdullah Ensour to form a new government, succeeding outgoing prime minister Fayez Tarawneh, whose government submitted its resignation on the same day.

In the Letter of Designation, the King highlighted what has been achieved so far in the country's reform process, urging the prime minister-designate to build on the achievements, leading to a new phase of the Kingdom's history where citizens become effective partners in the decision making process.

"I hereby designate you to form a new government that builds on the achievements of the past years and handles the missions and duties of the current stage," the King told Ensour in the letter (See full translation of the letter).

"As you embrace these noble national responsibilities, you are paving the way for the crucial post-elections stage. Therefore, you are expected to start consultations with the various political and national powers as you work on forming your ministerial team, so that such team is up to the current stage and challenges," King Abdullah said.

The King outlined the new government's mission, stressing that it should support the Independent Elections Commission in holding free and fair polls, and the newly formed Constitutional Court in fulfilling its mandate.

"In the political arena, the top priority for your government is to boost cooperation with the Independent Elections Commission and support it as the body administering and overseeing the early elections," His Majesty said.    

King Abdullah also underlined that the new government's mandate will include keeping channels of dialogue open with all segments of society to encourage all political forces to participate in the elections, adding that the new government should continue to urge all political actors to adopt feasible agendas that meet the voters' aspirations.

The Monarch also urged the new government to promptly start building on what has been achieved with regard to municipal elections.

"We are looking forward to the day of municipal elections as a milestone in our plans to realise decentralisation and local governance and upgrade the level of services offered to citizens, as these services have lately seen lamentable deterioration," the King said.

He urged Ensour to lead a government that respects the freedom of speech so that "history and national memory will record that the Jordanian Spring was civilised".

"Diversity of opinion should be respected without compromising the country’s security, safety or order and the rule of the law."

His Majesty also directed the new Cabinet to outline "specific mechanisms for appointments and promotions" in public service posts.

On economic reform, the government, the King said, should "exhibit the maximum degree of financial discipline", work on directing subsidies to those who deserve them and remove obstacles facing investors.

"The fiscal and economic challenges we are facing… require a medium-term budget to be presented to the coming Parliament," he stressed.

"I also direct you to ensure that the medium-term budget takes into consideration the requirements of the economic-fiscal reform programme prepared by the outgoing government, with the support and approval of international financial institutions."

The King also called on Ensour to accelerate the implementation of the projects supported by the Governorates Development Fund and to continue the implementation of the National Employment Strategy, stressing the need to draft a consumer protection law.

His Majesty called for forming a committee comprising "distinguished local and international experts in the fields of economic and social policies… to revisit privatisation policies and transactions conducted by successive Jordanian governments since the economic crisis of 1989".

The experts "should identify weaknesses and successes, and publish their findings in utter transparency. Lessons learned should be utilised and incorporated in future economic and social policies".

The Monarch also called for drawing up "a charter to enhance the system of integrity, transparency, accountability and the rule of law, guarantee justice and equal opportunity and combat wasta and favouritism".

Ensour's government should diversify energy sources and accelerate strategic energy projects, the King said, urging the premier-designate to safeguard national unity and continue the implementation of the National Media Strategy to maintain transparent and fruitful cooperation among the state, media and citizens.

Stressing that the government should continue supporting the Jordan Armed Forces amidst regional challenges, King Abdullah said Jordan should continue its humanitarian duties towards Syrian refugees and enhance joint Arab action and interfaith dialogue.

"…We direct the government to continue to support our Palestinian brothers until they establish their independent state on their national soil, with Jerusalem as its capital.

"The government is also expected to carry on Jordan’s historical role in preserving Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites under Hashemite custodianship, and to confront any attempt to tamper with or threaten them."

Meanwhile, outgoing Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh said in his letter of resignation to King Abdullah on Wednesday that his government worked hard to fulfil its mission as mandated in the Monarch's Letter of Designation in April this year.

"I am extremely grateful for your trust when you tasked me with forming a new government more than five months ago, at a critical time in the history of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan amid political, economic and social transformations at the international, regional and domestic levels," Tarawneh said (see full text of the letter).

In a reply to Tarawneh's letter, His Majesty commended the outgoing prime minister's achievements.

"Despite the short duration of your tenure, you were up to expectations under these exceptional circumstances," he said (see full text of the letter).

"This government, with all its agencies and departments, successfully navigated the exceptional circumstances our beloved Jordan has been experiencing, including dealing in a civilised and sophisticated manner with all activities in which people expressed their opinions, such as rallies and sit-ins, or any other form of protest."

Earlier this month, a Royal Decree was issued dissolving Parliament, and another Royal Decree was issued calling for early elections according to the provisions of the Elections Law.

After the dissolution, the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) has to specify a date for the elections.

However, the parliamentary polls are expected to be held early next year after the IEC extended the registration period for 15 more days, until October 15. The longest grace period allowed for the IEC as per the commission’s code is 85 days.

Ensour, who was a deputy in the now dissolved Lower House, has previously served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister. He also held the portfolios of planning, education, higher education and information.

A veteran statesman, the premier-designate, who was born in Salt in 1939, has been a deputy and a senator several times.

The Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported that the prime minister-designate will visit Parliament on Thursday and meet with Senate President Taher Masri for discussions on the formation of the next government.

On Wednesday, Ensour visited Tarawneh and Masri, and phoned other previous prime ministers to discuss the upcoming stage and His Majesty's directives in the Letter of Designation.

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