Jordan's Parliament Dissolved

From Reuters

King Abdullah II dissolved parliament Saturday but did not set a date for a general election, which should be due in November, officials said, raising the possibility that it could be delayed.

Lawmakers and politicians have said that the monarch will delay the next four-year parliamentary term by up to two years, under a provision allowed by the Jordanian Constitution.

In public, officials say a delay would give more time to draft a more representative electoral law to eliminate loopholes that prompted an Islamist boycott of the last election, in 1997.

But privately, top decision-makers worry that the current Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule has made Jordan's own majority-Palestinian population even more radical and has hit investor sentiment at a time when frustration with the economy is already high. A delay, they believe, may let things cool.

In a separate decree, Abdullah II announced a broad reshuffle of the Cabinet that gave Prime Minister Ali abu Ragheb more scope to advance market reforms, officials said.

Deputies said the most likely scenario now is that an article in the constitution will be invoked to let Abdullah II recall the dissolved parliament after four months pass without an election.

He has been lobbied over the last few months by senior politicians who have warned him that regional violence and economic stagnation may usher in radical deputies bent on derailing unpopular reforms guided by the International Monetary Fund. The reforms include fiscal restraint and extensive privatization.

Meanwhile, Abu Ragheb ensured a measure of stability by keeping the foreign, finance and interior portfolios unchanged in his 29-member Cabinet while bringing in 11 new ministers.

The new Cabinet took the oath of office Saturday evening.

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