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Jordan's prime minister resigns but stays on as caretaker

King Abdullah II instructed Omar Razzaz to remain acting prime minister until a new government is formed ahead of the November parliamentary elections.

Jordan’s prime minister has resigned but will remain in office as caretaker until a new government is formed. The expected change comes at a time of voter apathy ahead of new elections, economic struggle and rapidly mounting COVID-19 cases.

King Abdullah II accepted Prime Minister Omar Razzaz and his Cabinet’s resignation on Saturday. The king also instructed Razzaz and the Cabinet to remain in office until a new government is formed, the state-run Jordan Times reported.

The government’s term was scheduled to end this year, and new elections will be held Nov. 10. The king will next appoint a new government to oversee the vote. The king of Jordan has extensive powers in the country. These include naming the prime minister, who is head of government. The election will decide members of Jordan’s House of Representatives.

The elections and pending government formation are happening at a time of economic, political and virus-related strife in the Hashemite Kingdom. Unemployment shot up to 23% in September — the highest ever recorded. A majority of Jordanians plan to boycott the upcoming election. The government has also used defense laws initially invoked to combat the virus to stifle dissent, which has prompted outrage.

After months of relatively low figures, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in the country. The state-run Al-Mamlaka news outlet reported 1,824 new coronavirus infections on Monday. In September, the government introduced new measures to fight the virus’ resurgence, including prison terms for people holding large gatherings. On Monday, Jordan’s health minister blamed a lack of compliance with health guidelines for the country’s outbreak.

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