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'Sedition has been nipped in the bud,' says Jordan's King Abdullah II

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Jordan's King Abdullah II
Jordan's King Abdullah II   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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Jordan's King Abdullah II has made his first public comments after an alleged plot to destabilise his kingdom involving his half brother, former Crown Prince Hamzah.

The crisis in the royal family erupted Saturday when Jordan's military chief of staff visited Hamzah and warned him to stop attending meetings with critics of the government. Things quickly escalated, with Hamzah accusing the security establishment of threatening him and ordering the general to leave his home.

Authorities placed the former crown prince under a form of house arrest and detained up to 18 people, including former senior officials. On Sunday, the government said Hamzah and others were involved in a “malicious plot” against the kingdom's security with foreign support.

On Wednesday, King Abdullah II said the incident had been “nipped in the bud" but had caused him anger, pain and shock.

"The challenge of these last days had been shocking and painful," he said in a statement on Jordanian television.

King Abdullah II and the authorities have imposed a sweeping gag order on any coverage of the royal dispute in a sign of how sensitive they are over the apparent rift. And Prince Hamzah has not been seen in public.

Bessma Momani, a professor of international relations at Ontario’s Waterloo University, said the crisis strengthened Hamzah’s popularity, making critics of the government and new followers rally behind him.

She said the king's doubling-down on vague plot allegations could also create problems in the future. Prosecuting those detained, including members of a powerful tribe, could stir protests. If they are let go, more questions could arise about whether there was ever a plot.