Jordan’s King Abdullah appoints palace aide Bisher al Khasawneh PM

Amman (Reuters) – Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday appointed veteran diplomat and palace aide Bisher al Khasawneh as the new prime minister, days after accepting the resignation of Omar al-Razzaz, the royal palace said.

The monarch dissolved parliament on Sept. 27 at the end of its four-year term, a move that under constitutional rules meant the government had to resign within a week.

In a letter of designation, the monarch said he entrusted Khasawneh, who has been a palace advisor since last year after a career mostly spent as a diplomat and peace negotiator with Israel, to form a cabinet of qualified ministers who would rise to the country’s challenges.

Khasawneh will oversee parliamentary elections due on Nov. 10 whose outcome is expected under an electoral law that marginalises the Islamist opposition to maintain a majority of pro-government deputies.

The country is facing a peak in COVID-19 infections at a time of rising popular discontent over worsening economic conditions and curbs on public freedoms under emergency laws.

Jordan’s economy is expected to shrink by 6% this year as it grapples with its worst economic crisis in many years, with unemployment and poverty aggravated by the pandemic.