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Jordan king swears in new government after protests

Jordan PM names Islamist, leftist to new cabinet

Jordan's King Abdullah swore in a new government on Wednesday, replacing a business friendly prime minister with an ex-general in response to anti-government protests inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

U.S. ally Abdullah appointed Marouf Bakhit, a conservative former premier drawn from the ranks of the powerful security establishment, last week to replace Samir Rifai, who was dismissed after just over a year in the job.

Islamist & leftists

Bakhit named a new cabinet including an Islamist and five leftists on Tuesday following the dismissal of the previous government by King Abdullah II earlier this month.

The new line-up, which was sworn in, includes independent Islamist Abdelrahim Akur, who is a former leader of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, as head of the ministry of Islamic affairs and awqaf (endowments).

It also includes five ministers who are considered close to the left. They take the justice, political development, culture, agriculture and information portfolios.

But the outgoing ministers for foreign affairs, the interior, planning, water and finance all maintain their posts.

The opposition Islamic Action Front -- political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood -- gave the new government a cautious response after rejecting an offer at the weekend to join the new government.
Its leader Hamzeh Mansur said the new line-up was "just like its predecessors."

"But we will wait and see what it does before making a judgement," Mansur told AFP.

Bakhit had made a point of consulting widely on the formation of his new government after the king dismissed his predecessor Samir Rifai in the face of weeks of street protests fanned by the examples of Tunisia and Egypt.

But Mansur said on Sunday that his party had decided not to take up an offer to join the new government, despite initially promising talks with the authorities.