Controversial minister back for third stint in reshuffled Jordanian government

Controversial minister back for third stint in reshuffled Jordanian government

AMMAN (Rahnuma): Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s newly reshuffled government was on Thursday sworn in before the country’s King Abdullah.

The reorganization was marked by the appointment of political hardliner Salameh Hammad as the new minister of interior replacing the outgoing Samir Mubaideen.

It is the third time Hammad has held the interior ministerial post, his first stint being between 1993 and 1996, and his second in 2015 during the administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour.

In April 2016 Ensour was forced to ask for Hammad’s resignation after a large number of parliamentary members signed a petition expressing no confidence in him.

Haytham Erefej, a founding member of the Civil Coalition party, told Arab News that the government rejig will make things more difficult.

“This is a strange reshuffle, normally there is a goal behind the change, for example to lessen tension in the street, but this change will make the public angrier than before and this is in total contradiction to Prime Minister Omar Razzaz who was brought in as a liberal savior,” said Erefej.

Sabri Rbehat, a former Jordanian minister, questioned the need for change. “It produces no advancement in the badly needed political process,” Rbehat told Amman’s Radio Al-Balad.

Abla Abu Elba, secretary-general of the left-wing Hashd party, said: “Even though we don’t want to be pessimistic, the message in the appointment (of Hammad) signals that we will be facing a harsh position in the future.”

Jordan MP Tariq Khoury told Arab News he was opposed to appointing government Cabinet members based on a quota system rather than qualifications. “We need to end this idea of making appointments based on geography or tribalism but on qualifications,” he said.

Ali Khawaldeh, director general of the Jordanian Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, told Arab News he welcomed some of the changes particularly the renaming of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to the Ministry of Local Government. He said the new name was in accordance with “international norms” and that it will “strengthen the current decentralization efforts.”

The country’s Ministry of Telecommunications will now be called the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship with Mothana Gharabia continuing to head up the ministerial role.

Razzaz had asked on May 8 for all his ministers to resign ahead of the third reshuffle in the space of a year. It follows a change of personnel in the general intelligence directorate and at the royal court.

Bisher Al-Khasawneh was appointed as adviser to his majesty for communication and coordination as of April 23, 2019, and Maj. Gen. Ahmad Husni was appointed as director of the General Intelligence Department (GID) as of May 1.

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