Jordan’s new government sworn in after mass protests

The new Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz was appointed after a week of protests over a national income tax law

Amman (AFP) – Jordan’s new government was sworn in on Thursday, after mass protests against price rises and austerity measures forced the prime minister’s resignation.

The new administration led by Harvard-trained economist Omar al-Razzaz has already withdrawn the contested tax law which brought thousands of Jordanians to the streets, officials said.

The government shake-up has seen half the cabinet’s 28 ministers replaced, with Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Interior Minister Samir al-Mabidin among those keeping their jobs.

The defence portfolio goes to Razzaz, while new ministers were appointed in the areas including finance, planning, international cooperation and regional development.

Since being asked to form a government by King Abdullah II on June 4, Razzaz said he had been engaged in talks with different parties to “reach a fair taxation system for everyone”.

Cash-strapped Jordan relies heavily on foreign donors and in 2016 secured a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund.

But austerity measures tied to the loan have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the kingdom.

Jordanians protested in Amman and other cities over a proposed tax hike, with the scale of demonstrations prompting the resignation of prime minister Hani Mulki.

The public rallies were followed by a crisis meeting with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, concluding on Sunday with Jordan’s neighbours pledging $2.5 billion in aid.

The donors’ rival Qatar followed up with an offer of $500,000 in investment and promised to create 10,000 jobs for Jordanians.