Jordanian prime minister-designate Awn Khasawneh
Jordanian prime minister-designate Awn Khasawneh, pictured on October 17, on Tuesday started consultations to form a cabinet, as newspapers said the challenge was to rebuild trust between the state and the country's people. © - AFP/File
Jordanian prime minister-designate Awn Khasawneh
Last updated: October 19, 2011

Jordan's new PM urged to rebuild trust with people

Jordan's prime minister-designate Awn Khasawneh is in talks with the opposition and expected to announce his reform-mandated government at the weekend, a senior official said on Wednesday.

"Khasawneh began his meetings with the opposition. He is expected to present the composition of his government to King Abdullah II on Saturday," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Khasawneh met on Tuesday with former premier Ahmad Obeidat, who now heads the National Front for Reform formed in April and which groups Islamists, leftists, trade unionists and independents.

Obeidat told the press that he was "satisfied and hopeful" after the appointment of Khasawneh, 61, who has been a judge at The Hague-based International Court of Justice since 2000.

The king on Monday announced the appointment of Khasawneh as prime minister to replace Marruf Bakhit, with political reform as the top priority.

"My government will not contain demands for reform. It will be a reformist government with clear objectives and timeframe," Khasawneh told MPs at a meeting on Wednesday, the state-run Petra news agency reported.

He insisted that he "will personally form my own government, which comes at a critical stage. Nobody will interfere in its formation."

"I am serious about defusing the tension in the street. This does not happen by using iron fist because the reputation of the state is not built by repression. It is built by dialogue, respect and firmness," Petra quoted him as saying.

The judge has been expected to meet with the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, hoping to persuade it to join his government.

"Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and IAF will meet today to decide whether to join the new government," the movement said on its website.

"The movement favours a conditioned participation in the government. We welcome dialogue," it quoted IAF secretary Abdullah Farajallah as saying.

IAF chief Hamzeh Mansur has told AFP that the Islamists would "wait and see the cabinet line-up, its plans and actions" before making a decision.

The Islamists had refused to join the government of Bakhit, who was named in February but then accused of failing to meet public demands for much-demanded political reforms.

The king on Tuesday told newly-appointed intelligence chief Major General Feisal Shobaki to support the reform process "in full respect of the institutional and legal frameworks, human rights and freedoms."

Jordan has been the scene of protests since January to demand sweeping economic and political reform as well as tougher anti-corruption measures.

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