It may have looked like a routine swearing in of a new government, but Jordan’s King Abdullah is hoping his cabinet will stop his Kingdom from becoming another Egypt.
Marouf Bakhit is the new prime minister; he and his mainly conservative colleagues have been given the task of looking into political and economic reforms. The king wants broad-based consultations to include a reluctant Islamist opposition.
Jordanian Prime Minister Maruf Bakhit was sure the Islamists would eventually come on board.
“The situation is comfortable with the Islamist movement now. We held discussions with them. Their goal is ours, maybe we differ in methodology. We called on them to come to the table for talks and not to hold them on the streets.”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague has been one of the first to support Jordan’s efforts to open up a political dialogue. But King Abdullah is aware his own Western-style economic reforms have been blamed by the people for perpetuating corruption.
Last month’s street demonstrations were a mix of tribal and Islamist led opposition activists calling for more political freedoms and moves towards a constitutional monarchy.