Jordan reshuffle: eight government ministers replaced

New investment and planning ministers named in fifth reshuffle in two years

Jordan's King Abdullah meeting with officials in Amman on June 28, 2022. AFP
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Jordan’s King Abdullah replaced eight ministers on Thursday, state media said, in the fifth reshuffle to the government since it was appointed two years ago.

All significant powers in Jordan lie with the king, with the role of the 26-member cabinet an administrative one.

The main portfolios of finance, foreign affairs and interior were not changed.

Zeina Toukan, a former Royal Court official, was appointed minister of planning and Khuloud Al Saqqaf, a former Central Bank official, was appointed as investment minister.

Former education minister Azmi Al Mahafzah returned to his old job. The minister of social development, as well as several ministers of state were also changed.

The cabinet shrank by two members in the latest reshuffle as the labour ministry was merged with the industry, trade and supply ministry and the transport ministry was merged with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

The kingdom has had at least a dozen governments since King Abdullah succeeded his father, the late King Hussein, in 1999. Cabinet shake-ups are also frequent.

The last reshuffle was last October, when a new energy minister and government spokesman were brought in.

Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh, who was appointed by the monarch in October 2020, announced the reshuffle of the cabinet he heads on Thursday to improve his administration's performance under International Monetary Fund-guided economic reforms.

The British-educated former veteran diplomat and palace aide was appointed two years ago to restore public trust over the handling of Covid-19.

Mr Al Khasawneh has sought to accelerate reforms pushed by King Abdullah to help the oil importing country reverse a decade of sluggish growth hovering at around 2 per cent that was worsened by the pandemic and conflict in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

The government last summer unveiled a plan to attract more than $40 billion of investments over the next 10 years.

It said it was committed to implementing free market reforms that businessmen say were thwarted under previous conservative administrations.

The traditional conservative establishment had long been blamed for obstructing a modernisation drive pushed by the western-leaning monarch, fearing liberal reforms will erode their grip on power.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: October 27, 2022, 7:02 PM