Jordan approves third cabinet reshuffle in less than a year
AMMAN - Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz reshuffled his cabinet Thursday for the third time in less than year as the kingdom remains mired in economic difficulties.
The new cabinet took the oath in front of King Abdallah II at the Husseiniyeh Palace west of the capital, the royal court said.
Former cabinet members had tendered their resignations Wednesday in anticipation of the shake-up, the third since Razzaz took office in June after his predecessor resigned in the face of widespread economic protests.
The reshuffle saw former interior minister Salameh Hammad return to the position after a two-year hiatus.
Mohamad Ississ, former economic affairs adviser to the king, was appointed minister of planning and international cooperation and minister of state for economic affairs.
Razzaz first reshuffled his cabinet in October, and again in January after two ministers resigned following a fatal school bus accident.
Jordan, whose stability is seen as vital for the volatile Middle East, hosts some 1.3 million refugees from neighbouring war-torn Syria.
With a lack of natural resources to boost state coffers, the kingdom relies heavily on foreign aid and faces an unemployment rate of 18.5 percent.
The broad reshuffle saw Nidal Bataineh appointed labour minister, replacing Samir Murad.
The health portfolio was meanwhile passed from Ghazi al-Zabin to Saad Jaber.
Sami Daoud was named minister of state for prime minister affairs, while Yasera Ghosheh was appointed minister of state for institutional performance development.
Names were changed for two portfolios, with Walid Masri's ministry of municipal affairs becoming the ministry of local administration.
The ministry of communications and information technology, held by Mothanna Gharaibeh, was changed to the ministry of digital economy and leadership.
State-run media reported the reshuffle would try to tackle economic challenges that have mounted in the wake of neighboring Syria's civil war, and prepare Jordan for the Middle East peace plan that the Trump administration has promised to release in coming months.
The frequent government changes are seen as a way of deflecting public frustration in a country that has long struggled with economic mismanagement and declining living standards.
(AW and agencies)