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Forming a national salvation gov’t mandate given to Razzaz

Jun 10,2018 - Last updated at Jun 10,2018

There are key takeaways from last week that must be noted if only to record a historical moment of national pride. His Majesty King Abdullah embraced Jordanians unconditionally and publicly declared his respect for their political judgment; outgoing prime minister Hani Mulki and his government were given, and took, the opportunity to bow out with grace and dignity despite the loud demonstrations and demands for their ouster, and finally Omar Razzaz, a politically-savvy intellectual in touch with the pulse of Jordanians, was appointed as prime minister designate. Those three men, and with them the thousands of Jordanian activists and citizens who delivered the decisive message of political will, including all the security apparatus who safeguarded the process, have made Jordan proud.

As this week rolls in, we look forward to the naming of a new Cabinet and with it, Jordanians hope, Jordan’s executive authority will be expected to focus its effort on leading citizen-centric transformative reforms to help Jordan begin to shed the rentier state label and, hopefully, launch a productive economy, legitimised by political openness and democratic expression.

And it would be futile to second-guess or try to look too far into the future to predict how this new government will implement its reform plan but it makes sense, at this moment, to weigh in on how Razzaz will form his government. And in that regard we can certainly ask strategic questions to guesstimate what political hand Razzaz will play. 

Will Razzaz rely solely on middle class liberal experts to form a Cabinet of technocrats with less emphasis on geography, origin, religion and political affiliations? Or will he seek to build on the political blocks in parliament to form a politically inclusive government that, at least minimally, is based in parliamentary political weight distribution? Will that mean that he will enter into negotiations with the Islamists to bring them to the forefront of his reform efforts, despite their relative absence from the public demonstrations that led to the rise of Razzaz to the prime minister position? Will the growingly influential leftists, and especially those who led the campaign against the income tax draft law from the heart of the professional association, have a say in the makeup of the new government.

The answer lies in the commitment that was made for a new “nahj” or approach to governance in Jordan as per the demands of the demonstrators and their supporters. 

This commitment, articulated by King Abdullah in his meeting with the media representatives and later by Razzaz as he artfully diffused the anger of the demonstrators, appeared to underline three core principles: The need to institutionalise the separation of the three authorities, and with it the empowerment of these authorities to deliver on their constitutional mandates, the vital importance of improving the performance of the public sector at all levels in order to deliver its services competently and cost effectively and finally the requirement to invest heavily in political inclusion and representation to widen the baseline of involved and invested Jordanians. A byproduct of the success of these three tacks would necessarily mean a more efficient economy and the success of much-needed strategies for more self-reliance.

In order to achieve success on these quite complex tracks, it would be fair to assume that Razzaz will seek to build a cabinet of so-called political appointees or representatives who are also sector specialists in order to achieve political consensus and buy in from the key power bases representing Jordanians today. 

In the absence of a clear political will for a parliamentary government, that approach would be the closest to forming a government that has political legitimacy from the people.  It will not be surprising, therefore, to see Razzaz bring in cabinet ministers who are close to the Islamists, leftists, professional associations and parliamentary blocks, as well as those with established social capital in communities outside the capital Amman.  Each and every proposed Cabinet minister would be assessed at this stage against what they would add to the political legitimacy and weight of the Cabinet in order to collectively strengthen its hand as it works to achieve a very critical and difficult mandate.

The demographics of these Cabinet ministers must challenge common practice and indicate a serious political will to embrace the so far marginalised population groups, and especially youth and women. Specifically, the selection of youth and women needs to steer away from tokenism and quota mentalities, but focus on raising the profile and political weight of these groups by ensuring that each selection is of exceptional merit and character.  

It is clear from the unofficial hum behind Razzaz’s appointment that the political climbers who sought power for themselves will challenge him and his Cabinet, and wherever possible nip at his ankles to undermine this effort. These detractors are not without power or influence and many lie in waiting within the sectors or even authorities that he is mandated to reform.

It is also evident that the political immaturity of the political parties and other political formations will make his task to empower the Cabinet politically more difficult to achieve. Especially that political leadership in Jordan, so far, has been more often than not based on individual achievement, or social contacts, and often lacking a real credible base of followers or the political decision-making cohesiveness that comes with political party leadership in more mature democracies.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Razzaz said that he needs time to select his team members. The formulas are complex and the selection will need to follow proper recruitment practices and extended negotiations to determine political support, as well as sector efficiency and knowledge. It might also mean that Razzaz will not only be looking to identify candidates for the ministerial positions, but also other key senior public sector posts, including those at secretary general level, that are key to the success of a truly efficient government.

The final outcome is critical. This Cabinet will indicate to Jordanians the new premier’s commitment to political inclusion, especially of the so far marginalised groups of youth and women, his ability to negotiate with political “parties” to support his vision and plan for reform as well as the collective credentials of the selected team members to form a baseline of political clout, as well as maintain a balance between political and technocrat credentials. It will also tell Jordanians how much authority he was given to form his team or whether the formation of this government was also influenced by the priorities or preferences of the Royal Court or intelligence department. The final formation effectively will tell Jordanians how powerful is the new premier and, therefore, how able he is to implement a credible and ambitious reform plan.

During last week’s demonstrations against the Income Tax Law proposed by the former government, many political pundits called for a national salvation government. That term had been used before during times of political or economic crises and has come to mean a high-profile government of senior individuals, possibly at prime minister level, that come together to save the country through their combined experience and wisdom, but perhaps not their harmonious collaboration.

I believe what Razzaz has been entrusted by the King and the Jordanian people to put together is exactly a national salvation government. This one, however, will be expected to embrace and maximise the incredible potential of the future of Jordan and engage the country’s citizen agents, not as individuals, but as representatives of legitimate political institutions and formations, including young emerging ones. 

National salvation today will, therefore, mean democratic, politically and demographically inclusive and corruption-free governance tasked to efficient, committed Jordanians regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or origin, but with strong consideration of the legitimate weight and value of their political and social representation.

 

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FIRST, I MUST BEGIN BY NOMINATING NERMEEN MURAD TO BE CONSIDERED FOR A POST IN THE NEW GOVERNMENT TO BE FORMED FOR VERY SIMPLE REASON(S) NAMELY AS FOLLOW:
1) NONE OF HER EDITORIALS ARE EITHER POLITICAL NOR AIMED AT SCRATCHING THE SURFACES OF THE ISSUES IN JORDAN SO AN INTELLEGENT JORDANIAN WOMAN WHO SEE THE FUTURE AND DECIDE TO PARTICIPATE IN MAKING JORDAN GREAT.
2) SHE IS AN HONEST PATRIOTIC JORDANIAN WHO HAVE INVESTED AND WANTS NOTHING BUT THE BEST JORDAN AND JORDANIANS.
3) THE SITUATION IN JORDAN TODAY WAS VERY MUCH SEEN AND PREDICTED BY HER SO WE NEED VISIONARY TALENTS TAHT LOVES JORDAN AND PUTS THE BEST INTEREST OF ALL JORDANIANS FIRST.
4) SHE IS SMART, BOLD AND COURAGEOUS IN ALL HER VIEWS UNLIKE TOEING TO LINE OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.
NOW, LET US DIG DEEP INTO YOUR OPINIONS, THE INTERPULATE, EXTRAPULATE AND YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS AND PROGNOSIS FOR THE KINGDOM. THE NEW PRIME MINISTER HAS A TOUGH JOB AHEAD OF HIM WHICH I AM CONFIDENT THAT HE WILL BE UP TO THE JOB BUT WILL NEED A LOT OF HELP FOR THE CHOICES THAT HE HAS TO MAKE IN CHOOSING HIS CARBINATE IN LEU OF THE CONFOUNDING VARIABLES OF THE POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF THE JORDANIAN EQUATIONS. I AM AFRAID THAT THESE DYNAMICS ARE DEEP ROOTED AND ENTRENCHED IN TRIBAL POLITICAL WAR FARE, WASTERISM, FEAR OF WOMEN IN POLITICS, LIVING IN THE PAST AND THE EXCLUSSION OF THE OPINIONS OF THOSE WHO HAVE THE BEST INTEREST OF JORDAN AND JORDANIANS AT HEART. HOW CAN DR RAZZAZ CHOOSE HIS TEAM WITH OUT UPSETTING THE EQUILLIBRUM?. HE WILL NEED A HELPING HAND OF ALL CITIZENS FROM THOSE WHO MAY THINK THAT THERE CAN NEVER BE A GOVERNMENT WITHOUT THEIR NAMES ENGRAVED IN IT TO THE MINORITIES OF ANY STRATA.
TO ENSURE THE PARTICIPATION OF ALL JORDANIANS FROM GEOGRAPHY TO ORIGIN, RELIGION, RACE, GENDER, TRIBAL GAMES, POLITICAL AFFILIATIONS AND THE EXPECTIONS OF THE EXCLUDED PEAPLE, THE BEST APPROACH WILL BE TO DRAW A VEIN DIAGRAM AND DIVID THE PIE TO FIT THE NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE AND YOU CAN BE LUCKY TO GET A CANDIDATE WHO MAY SATISFY MORE THAN ONE STRATA. CONSIDER MY VIEWS HERE. WHAT IF WE CONSIDER THE MINISTER OF HEALTH TO GO TO A WOMAN WHO IS AS QUALIFIED AS HIS MEN COUNTER PARTS BECAUSE WOMEN TEND TO UNDERSTAND HEALTH ISSUES AND PUBLIC HEALTH MORE THAN MEN. IN THE JORDANIAN HEALTH SYSTEM TODAY, NURSES ARE MORE VITAL IN ALL HEALTH CARE SECTORS MORE THAN A PHYSICIAN NEVER MIND THOSE WHO SMOKE WHILE IN THE OPPERATING ROOMS. TO THIS EFFECT, WHY DONT DR RAZZAZ CONSIDER THE CANDIDATE NAMED BELOW FOR THE POST OF THE HEALTH MINISTER; DR HANIA DAWANI AND HERE ARE THE REASONS AND WHAT SHE COULD OFFER TO THE KINGDOM AS THE FIRST WOMAN HEALTH MINISTER IN DECADES:
EDUCATION: BS NURSING AT UNIVERSITY OF ORDAN 2) MS IN MENTAL HEALTH, MPH IN PUBLIC HEALTH AND DOCTOR OF NURSING SCIENCE (DNSc) AND HER DOCTORAL THESIS IS ABOUT ILLNESS BEHAVIOUR IN ARAB WORLD ALL FROM BOSTON UNIVERSITY. IN A NUT SHELL IN SERIES, SHE HAS BSc, MSc, MPH & DNSc ALL IN HEALTH CARE. LIKE DR RAZZAZ, DR DAWANI WAS TRAINED IN BOSTON AND BELEIVE ME SHE CAN BE A CATALYST IN EXPANDING MEDICAL TOURISM TO INCLUDE OTHER THIRD PARTY PAYERS BY GOVERNMENTS. I DO NOT SEE WHY THE US MEDICARE AND MADICAID SYSTEM CAN NOT CONTRACT WITH THE JORDANIAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM AND IF SO WILL BRING THE MUCH NEEDED HARD CURRENCYTO FUND THE HEALTH SYSTEM. FIRST IT WILL BE CHEEPER WITH EXCELLENT OUTCOME SO IT IS A WIN-WIN SITUATION FOR BOTH JORDAN AND USA. THERE ARE OTHER COLABORATIVE NETWORKS THAT SHE CAN BRING FROM NURSIN EDUCATION TO FOMULATING A COMMON LICENCES WHERE BY JORDANIAN NURSES CAN EASILY BE EMPLOYED IN THE WEST. THIS CANDIATE IN QUESTION HAS A VERY LONG PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS FROM THE POST OF TEACHING AT UNIVERSITIES IN JORDAN, UAE, USA AND WHAT MORE SPENT LONG TIME WITH THE JORDANIAN NURSING COUNCIL UNDER HRH PRINCES MUNA. SHE HAS SERVED AS A CONSULTANT TO (WHO) AND THE HOST OF OTHER CONTRIBUTION SHE HAS MADE FOR HER COUNTRY. WHAT MORE, A PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE AND TRAINING SHOULD BE A SIN-QUA NONE FOR ONE TO FUNCTION EFFECTIVELY AS THE MINISTER OF HEALTH IN ANY COUNTRY. WHY NOT??. THE ONLY THING THAT I CAN SEE TO DISQUALIFY HER IS GENDER AND / OR EXCLUSION FROM ANY OF THOSE NONE ISSUES. IF THIS IS CONSIDERED, YOU WILL HAVE ONE WOMAN WELL QUALIFIED, A CHRISTIAN REPRESENTED, A NURSE FOR THE FIRST TIME , A NEW FACE IN THE JORDANIAN POLITICAL EQUATION. TRUST ME, SHE IS ONE OF THE MOST QUALIFIED INDIVIDUALS IF NOT THE MOST QUALIFIED IN JORDAN FOR THIS POST. YES, THIS MIGHT RAISE SOME HUMS BEHIND RAZZAZ'S APPOINTMENTS IF CONSIDERED BECAUSE THE COUNTRY IS NOT READY TO GO BACK INTO THE SAME MERRY-GO-ROUND OF THE PAST. LOOK AT THE ACCOMPLISHENT OF ONE WOMAN IN A COUNTRY WHERE WE EXCLUDE AND MARGINALISE ALL WOMEN. WHEN IT COMES TO GENDER, JORDAN SHOULD GET OUT OF TOKENISM AND QUOTAS AS A MEANS OF COMMAND AND CONTROL OF WOMEN.
LIKE IT OR NOT, DR RZZAZ SHOULD CONSIDER AT LEAST ONE YOUNG MAN OR WOMAN FROM THE DOT-COM GENERATION WHO THINKS THE SAME WAY AS OUR CURRENT YOUNG CROWN PRINCE SO THAT THEY CAN START INTEGRATING THE FUTURE INTO THE CURRENT JORDANIAN DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM. THE LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST, DR RAZZAZ CAN CONSIDER ADDING ONE POST FROM EACH POLITICAL PARTY AND AT LEST ONE FOR PROFESSIONL ORGANISATIONS SO THAT ALL THE POLICIES WILL HAVE THE HANDS AND FOOT PRINTS INTO IT AS A FORM OF COMMUNICATING THE ACTIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO ALL JORDANIANS. THE NAMES OR THE PRE-FORMED LABELLING OF ANY PARTY SHOULD NEVER EXCLUDE ANY ONE FROM ANY MINISTERIAN POST.

An illuminating article. Excellent as always.

One has to ask, 8 prime ministers in as many years, what has Razzazz got that the others did not have, a vision?

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