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The New Arab

Jordan enacts major cabinet reshuffle to address economic woes

Mass anti-austerity protests rocked Jordan last year. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 November, 2019

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Jordan was shaken by a week of angry protests last year as thousands protested against austerity measures.

Jordan swore in eleven new ministers on Thursday in the fourth cabinet reshuffle in two years, a measure designed to counter growing frustration over high prices and unemployment.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz ordered the resignations earlier this week. He remained in his post as did the foreign and interior ministers.

Mohammad Al-Ississ, a Harvard-educated economist and former palace advisor, was brought in as finance minister in place of Ezzedin Kanakriyah. 

He will be responsible for overseeing an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme agreed in 2016, which Jordan has so far been slow in implementing.

Al Ississ will also oversee the 2020 budget, which is expected to involve significant spending cuts.

Austerity measures have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the kingdom, culminating in angry protests over tax proposals - later withdrawn - that forced prime minister Hani Mulki to resign last year.

Frequent cabinet personnel changes are seen as a way of deflecting growing frustration among Jordanians with high prices and unemployment.

Last month, teachers ended a month-long strike that paralysed some 4,000 public schools after reaching an agreement with the government for a rise in wages.

Read more: 'We will not kneel': Thousands protest in Jordan over IMF-backed austerity measures

Jordan, a key US ally, has largely avoided the unrest witnessed by other countries in the region since the Arab Spring revolts broke out in 2011, although protests did flare late that year after the government cut fuel subsidies. 

But the country has long played host to refugees from neighbouring Iraq, and according to government figures, over one million people have fled to Jordan from Syria's devastating seven year war, exacerbating its struggling economy

Amman has repeatedly urged international donors to provide extra funds to help it host them.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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