AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah issued a decree on Thursday forming a new government led by a former World Bank economist and mandated to review a disputed tax system after widespread protests against IMF-driven austerity measures.
Abdullah, a US ally, appointed Omar Al-Razzaz, a Harvard- educated economist outside the ranks of the traditional political elite, last week to replace Hani Mulki, a business- friendly politician who was dismissed to defuse public anger that led to some of the largest protests in years. Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets in Amman and in provincial towns earlier this month against a series of tax rises since the start of the year.
Protesters called for sacking the government and scrapping a tax bill which unions and civic groups blamed for worsening poverty and unemployment.
Razzaz’s 28-member cabinet is dominated by a mix of conservative politicians and Western-leaning techocrats who held sway in previous administrations, including seven women, a copy of the royal decree showed.
Official sources said the government is expected to maintain traditional support for US policies in the region and continue with International Monetary Fund-guided reforms.