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King Abdullah Seeks to Champion Jordanian Reforms

King Abdullah II of Jordan is portraying himself as a champion of reform in order to head off further protests, writes Osama Al Sharif.
Protesters from the Islamic Action Front and other opposition parties shout slogans to demand political and economic reform, and access to corruption cases, during a demonstration after Friday prayers in Amman February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Majed Jaber (JORDAN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3E4AO

Jordan will have a new government in a few days. That in itself is no big news, since the kingdom has had five governments in the last two years. What is special about this one is that it comes after more than a month of drawn out deliberations — first to name a new prime minister and then to agree on the composition of the cabinet. It’s a new process that King Abdullah II promised late last year in a bid to set a course for political reform, beginning with credible legislative elections and followed by consultations with the deputies to form the closest possible thing to a parliamentary government. The entire process should eventually usher in a new phase of constitutional monarchy. 

It’s the king’s way of steering the country through two years of public protests calling for political reform — Jordan’s version of the Arab Spring. No one knows if this royal recipe for reform will succeed, but in the past few months the young monarch has been able to transform himself into a champion of political reform. He has often complained that progress towards achieving his royal vision has not been fast enough.

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