Jordan's King Abdullah Sacks Cabinet in Wake of Street Protests

King Abdullah appoints new PM after thousands of Jordanians take to the streets protesting rise in fuel, food prices, slowed political reforms.

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Jordan's King Abdullah has sacked his government in the wake of street protests and has asked his former ex-military adviser Marouf Bakhit to form a new cabinet, an official said.

King Abdullah's move comes after thousands of Jordanians took to the streets - inspired by the regime ouster in Tunisia and the turmoil in Egypt - and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai who is blamed for a rise in fuel and food prices and slowed political reforms.

Jordanian protesters shout anti-government slogans during a demonstration at the Prime Minister office, in Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011.Credit: AP

The Royal Palace says Rifai's cabinet resigned on Tuesday.

Abdullah also nominated Marouf al-Bakhit as his prime minister-designate. No other details were immediately available.

"(Bakhit) is a former general and briefly ambassador to Israel who has been prime minister before. He's someone who would be seen as a safe pair of hands," said Rosemary Hollis, professor of Middle East policy studies at London's City University.

"I wouldn't see it as a sign of liberalization. With his previous premiership, he talked the talk of reform but little actually happened," she said.

Under fire from an enraged public over high food prices, Rifai announced wage increases two weeks ago to civil servants and the military in an attempt to restore calm.

Protests have spread across Jordan in the last few weeks, with demonstrators blaming corruption spawned by free-market reforms for the plight of the country's poor.

Many Jordanians hold successive governments responsible for a prolonged recession and rising public debt that hit a record $15 billion this year in one of the Arab world's smallest economies, heavily dependent on foreign aid.

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