Jordan's King Abdullah II on Friday asked premier-designate Fayez Tarawneh to form a cabinet for "a limited transitional period" to implement reforms needed to hold elections before the end of 2012.
"I instruct you to form a new government whose top priority is resuming the reform march," the king said in a letter of designation to Tarawneh, 63, who was prime minister and royal court chief in the late 1990s.
"Designating your government for a limited transitional period depends on completing and implanting laws that ensure political reforms and lead the country to hold parliamentary polls," a palace statement quoted the king as saying.
These include laws on political parties, a constitutional court and elections, the king said.
"The success or failure of Tarawneh's government hinges on accomplishing this mission," a palace official told AFP.
The letter came a day after the king accepted the resignation of prime minister Awn Khaswaneh, 62, an International Court of Justice judge who formed his cabinet last October to become the third premier of 2011.
Signup to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
The king accused Khaswaneh of being too slow, telling him in a letter on Thursday that Jordan "is going through a critical stage and it cannot afford any delay in achieving the needed reform."
Khasawneh won a comfortable vote of confidence for his government from parliament in December, but he came under sharp criticism for proposing an electoral law seen as a blow to pro-reform movements, including the powerful opposition Islamists.
The long-awaited draft, which was approved by his cabinet earlier this month, scraps a contested one-person-one-vote system and increases a quota for women MPs.
But the proposal limits the number of seats allocated to political parties, which has angered opposition groups, mainly the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.
"The electoral law must represent all Jordanians in a fair way, regardless of their political background and ideologies. This must be done as soon as possible in order to hold elections before the end of this year," the king told Tarawneh, who is expected to announce his government next week.
Earlier on Friday, more than 1,000 people demonstrated in central Amman, criticising Tarawneh, saying they "want to change policies, not only governments."
Jordan has seen persistent Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations almost every week since January 2011, demanding sweeping reforms and a tougher fight against corruption.