Jordan's new government wins confidence of lower house

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 03, 2011 22:30 hrs

Amman, March 4 (DPA) Jordan's new government narrowly won a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament Thursday.

The 63-47 vote, with seven abstentions, came at the end of four days of debate on the government's major policies, presented by Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit Sunday.

During the debate, which involved most of the chamber's 120 deputies, Bakhit came under heavy criticism from many lawmakers who cast doubt on his ability to carry out the promised democratic reforms assigned to him by King Abdullah II.

Deputies accused him of 'rigging' the 2007 general elections when he was in power.

According to local media, Bakhit faced the possibility of losing the confidence vote. But many of those who opposed him had no choice but to vote in his favour, because his government's failure could prompt the dissolution of the lower house by King Abdullah II.

Bakhit formed his cabinet last month after the monarch sacked the administration Samir Rifai under pressure from demonstrations that swept the country. Protesters demanded political and economic reforms, finding inspiration from the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Ironically, Rifai was forced to step down despite his government winning a confidence vote with a majority of 111.

Thursday's vote gives Bakhit the green light to go ahead with a plan to open dialogue with all components of Jordan's political spectrum, including the Islamic-led opposition. That will be a run-up to reforms in which governments are based on parliamentary majorities.

Debate in recent days has focused on turning Jordan into a constitutional monarchy, which would limit the powers of the king, particularly in the choice of prime ministers and cabinet ministers.

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