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Jordanian King appoints new PM

Jordanian King appoints new PM
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Jordan has a new prime minister. King Abdullah asked the conservative former PM Marouf Bakhit to take over from Samir Rifai, who was the target of yet more popular unrest that is sweeping the Arab world.

Rifai is a wealthy politician and a former adviser to the royal court.

He responded to a series of protests over the high cost of living by announcing wage increases for civil servants and the military.

But demonstrators blamed his pro-western free-market reforms for the plight of the country’s poor.

His replacement though was in charge during elections in 2007, tainted by claims of widespread vote-rigging.

Professional association activist Maysara Malas said: “This is a replacement of one individual with another, but the same trend continues. He does not represent a parliamentary majority nor free and democratic choices like in democratic countries.”

But Islamist campaigner Badi Rafaya said: “The demand of the public is to change the political trend and carry out genuine and deep political reform. We hope this change is a step in that direction.”

Many Jordanians blame successive governments for a stubborn recession and record public debt that is still rising.

Discontent has grown recently as the prolonged downturn has eaten into the state’s ability to absorb the economic impact on the poor.

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