King of Jordan urges his government to speed up reforms

King Abdullah II tells his prime minister, Marouf Bakhit, that he will not tolerate any delays on the way to political and economic reforms in Jordan.

AMMAN // King Abdullah II has urged swift and decisive government action for political and economic reforms in Jordan, warning that he will not tolerate any delays.

The king also urged the government to "chase, remove and isolate the corrupt" in a letter to the prime minister, Marouf Bakhit, the Petra News Agency reported on Tuesday.

King Abudullah said he had confidence in a 53-member national dialogue committee selected to draft changes, by the end of May, to the laws governing election and the political parties. The revisions are expected to create a representative parliament and a bigger role for political parties in the decision-making process.

But several members of the committee including the powerful Islamists, said they will not participate if the government does not take their demands into consideration, particularly for constitutional amendments.

Jamil Abu Baker, the Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, said: "The King's letter confirms that there are hardly any reform steps taken. The government itself is not reformist. What we need right now are tangible steps and constitutional amendments that would lead to a parliamentary government and a strong parliament. Public resentment is growing with slow pace of reforms."

Since January, people across the country have been holding protests, calling for the reform of the regime in which the king has absolute powers.

King Abdullah's statement came as Jordanians have increased their demands for a constitutional monarchy or a return of the 1952 constitution before it was amended and consolidated the king's grip on power.

Nabil Ghishan, an editor and columnist at Arab Al Yawm, said the king was upset with the slow pace of reforms."He wants it to be responded to quickly, to the public."