King tasks Razzaz with forming new government

Jordan's King Replaces Embattled PM to Defuse Anti-Government Protests

Harvard-educated Razzaz, who was education minister, will start consultations on Wednesday to form a new government. He said political parties, unions and civil society groups must take part in the talks.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a three-year arrangement with Jordan in 2016 to support economic and financial reform, aiming to lower public debt and encourage structural change.

His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday entrusted Omar Razzaz with forming a new government, succeeding that of Hani Mulki, who resigned on Monday. The demonstrators say Mulki's resignation has not brought about any changes and that the government must scrap the I-M-F-backed tax bill.

The king blamed the country's economic woes on regional instability, the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and a lack of global support.

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Police said on Monday the protests remained under control, though officers had detained 60 people in recent days.

The protests have shaken Jordan, a U.S. ally that has mostly escaped the turmoil that has buffeted its neighbours in the Middle East in recent years. The official unemployment rate has risen above 18 percent, and it's believed to be double that among young Jordanians.

"Even if they removed Mulki and replaced him with anyone else in the world and the policies don't change, that would mean we have achieved nothing", she said.

Lawmakers were on course to ask the king's permission for an early exceptional session, with a majority demanding the withdrawal of the tax law, the speaker of parliament has said.

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Mr Mulki quit after demonstrations against a planned tax rise and increases in the price of fuel and electricity.

Razzaz then returned to Jordan to head the Social Security Corporation, and from 2011-12, led the national team responsible for preparing a national employment strategy.

Another, who gave his first name as Khalil, said Jordan's political system, which grants the monarchy vast executive powers, should become more democratic and accountable. There was also unrest in 2012 when the International Monetary Fund told the government to lift gasoline prices. Opponents say a tough IMF-imposed fiscal consolidation plan has worsened the plight of poorer Jordanians and squeezed the middle class.

In a letter accepting the Mulki's resignation, the king reportedly praised the former PM for "bravely taking hard decisions that were not popular but were in the higher interest of the nation" and urged him to help the new government through the transition process.

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