Jordan has a new Prime Minister and a general election
Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour resigned his portfolio on Sunday and was immediately replaced by Dr Hani Mulki in a caretaker capacity.
Also on Sunday the King dissolved the 150 seat lower house of parliament or House of Representatives (Majlis al-Nuwab) with elections expected within the next four months.
The formal letter by King Abdullah II appointing the new prime minister and asking him to form a new Cabinet as published in The Jordan Times is as follows:
“29 May 2016
In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful,
Your Excellency Dr Hani Mulki,
I am pleased to convey to you my Arab Hashemite greetings, wrapped in cordiality, respect and appreciation, as we celebrate national occasions, precious to our beloved country, namely, the 70th Independence Day, the Great Arab Revolt’s centennial and the Arab Army Day.
Among faithful Jordanian figures, I have known you as sincere in your belonging and loyalty to your leadership and country, a dedicated and hardworking person, who seeks to serve the interests of our dear Jordan, distinguished in your competency and capabilities, and a man whose main concern is to serve the country and its citizens.
Having accepted the resignation of our brother Dr Abdullah Ensour, and based on what we know of you as a man of experience and vision in various fields, we hereby designate you to form a new government that builds on the previous achievements and performs its national duties and mandate during this stage that our country, the Arab and Muslim nation as well as the world around us are undergoing.
Having issued a Royal Decree dissolving the Lower House, the Constitution requires that legislative elections be conducted within a period not exceeding four months. Therefore, it is imperative to provide the Independent Elections Commission with all the necessary support and facilitations to enable it to carry out its national duty of administering all stages of the electoral process with integrity and transparency.
The Election Law that has been passed, and on which the upcoming elections will be held, is a milestone in our national reform process. Through this law, we have moved from the one-person,one-vote electoral system to a proportional system based on open lists. We hope that this law encourages candidates to join platform-based political blocs, removed from sub-loyalties and narrow interests, in a way that contributes to the formation of stronger parliamentary bloc structures, with specific platforms and goals in order to work under the Dome in a more mature fashion. This would be a qualitative leap towards realising our aspirations, particularly the endgame of our process: building and developing political parties and bringing forth parliamentary governments.
Within the same framework, the Decentralisation Law enacted last year is a key link in the political reform chain, aimed at enhancing people’s participation in the development-related decision-making process. This contributes to the development and capacity building of governorates, ensuring fairer distribution of development gains. Therefore, the government is mandated to issue all the necessary by-laws and instructions to implement the Decentralisation Law, including making the necessary arrangements to hold the elections of the governorates’ councils next year.
Undoubtedly, political reform would not yield the desired fruit except through strengthening the rule of law. In this regard, the achievements we have made on the political reform track should be accompanied by administrative reforms aimed at deepening the rule of law, developing public administration and paving the way for leaders who can bring about positive change. We have gone a long way on this path, having drawn up the National Integrity Charter and its executive plan, along with the enactment of the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Law. The goal behind this is to entrench the values of justice, equality, equal opportunity, and that authority and accountability in public positions go hand-in-hand, all of which should be translated into concrete practices that citizens can feel.
Weakness in the performance of some government agencies has negative consequences on citizens and investors, and comes at the expense of the country. Therefore, immediate and effective measures should be taken to improve the performance of these agencies. Accordingly, it is imperative to expedite the implementation of the e-government project in order to improve the quality of the services offered and increase transparency.
Moreover, relentless work is required to improve the quality of services offered to citizens in all fields. To achieve this, field work and direct contact with citizens is necessary to assess their needs and services available to them in order to ensure a swift and just response to citizens’ issues in all governorates. This requires a ministerial team that is able to shoulder all of its responsibilities and do its job with courage and proficiency to work out solutions swiftly, without hesitating or fabricating excuses in making decisions. The main criterion to evaluate the performance of the government team is the achievements it makes and the services it offers to citizens, so that our people and country will not miss any opportunity, enabling us to build the future we aspire to and the one our dear people are worthy of.
The application of the principles of justice, equality, transparency and equal opportunity for all members of society cannot be complete without a judiciary that is able to carry out its duties speedily and effectively. We have a firm conviction that no political, administrative or economic reform can be achieved without a judicial apparatus that serves justice and ensures equality to enhance peace of mind among all. Having said that, cooperation with the judicial branch should continue and the judiciary should be provided with all its needs to be able to create a judicial environment that boasts integrity and transparency. It is also vital to draw up the necessary policies and enact the necessary pieces of legislation to advance and modernise the judicial apparatus.
The Kingdom is facing tremendous economic difficulties due to the volatile situation in this region, which has had an adverse impact on growth levels. Therefore, we have to take exceptional and innovative measures that help us overcome these challenges and obstacles and, subsequently, achieve higher growth rates, enhance the competitiveness of our national economy, generate jobs for citizens and provide a better living for our people.
The Jordan Vision 2025 represents a long-term national blueprint that outlines the integrated framework of economic and social policies based on providing opportunities for all and serving as the base to enhance the rule of law, equal opportunity, increasing public participation in policymaking and achieving sustainable and comprehensive development. Accordingly, it is vital to continue the implementation of the necessary policies and measures and create the proper environment to achieve the highest level of partnership, cooperation and joint efforts between the government, the private sector and civil society institutions in a genuine and effective manner.
Therefore, a package of measures designed to overcome these economic challenges should be in place within the coming weeks, and their implementation should start as soon as possible. This will be a major criterion in the evaluation of the government’s performance. It is also essential to continue achieving necessary economic reforms and implement a set of strategies and plans, foremost of which is the employment strategy. It is imperative to remove imbalances, revisit relevant legislation and improve the investment climate to stimulate growth as well as maintain fiscal and monetary stability.
The Jordan Investment Fund Law has been enacted. This law opens the way for Arab investments in developmental and investment projects that generate jobs and earn significant revenue for the national economy. Without haste, it is necessary to complete the plans of these projects.
The government must continue building solid economic ties with brotherly Arab countries and our friends in the international community. The establishment of the Saudi-Jordanian Coordination Council places the two countries’ strategic relations within an institutional framework that enhances cooperation in a wide range of fields, serving the interests of both countries and boosting their integration. The government has to start preparations to hold the council’s meeting as soon as possible to achieve our common goals.
The economic challenges we face have multiplied due to the large numbers of refugees seeking security and safety. Since its independence, Jordan has been a safe haven for our fellow Arabs and it will continue carrying out its humanitarian duty towards them within its capabilities, bearing in mind that what we have done already goes beyond our ability and far exceeds what the international community has offered. In this context, I stress the importance of following up on the implementation of the London donor conference to secure Jordan with the support it needs to shoulder the burden of the Syrian refugee influx.
Time and again, I have asserted that my top priority and the real challenge facing our country is combating poverty and unemployment, which add to the suffering of citizens, whom we always strive to provide with the decent living they deserve. Accordingly, the government must pay the closest attention to this challenge and place it at the top of its priorities, charting developmental and productive programmes at the local governorate and municipal levels and laying down a sustainable development vision for these areas.
Moreover, the government must pay special attention to schools, higher education and vocational training due to their importance in supplying the labour market with the qualified manpower required to achieve development and prepare future generations to confront challenges. It should also work closely with the Royal Commission for Human Resources Development to implement agreed upon recommendations.
Our energy consumption is growing steadily and the rise in the prices of energy on international markets has been a primary cause of the increasing state debts. Therefore, relentless executive measures and efforts should continue to diversify our sources of energy, with a focus on alternative and renewable energy, liberalise the oil derivatives market and complete the executive measures concerning mega projects, especially in the vital sectors of energy, water and transportation.
Regarding the health sector, our medical care services stand out as a unique model in the region and they require constant improvement to maintain and improve their quality. In this context, efforts should be made towards the optimal utilisation of available resources, completion of the electronic connectivity and computerisation of the sector, enhancing the role of the Health Care Accreditation Council, expansion of health insurance coverage, fostering medical tourism and easing all related procedures in the service of the national economy.
With regards to tourism, special significance should be attached to this sector, especially in light of the woes it is suffering due to regional circumstances and its vital contribution to the gross domestic product and employment of Jordanians.
As for the youth sector, it needs greater attention from the government than it has received over the past years to help young people find opportunities for a decent living. Therefore, we should be keen on supporting and empowering youth and motivate them to innovate and invest in their potential. After all, young people are the main pillar in our development process and the cornerstone in efforts to build Jordan’s future. There must be constant outreach to them, while young leaders should be empowered to shoulder responsibility. Efforts need to be exerted to keep this generation of young people away from extremism and radicalism, by arming them with knowledge, education and a high sense of belonging to be active partners in the building of our political, economic and cultural life.
Women, proven competent in all fields, must take their rightful place in society and the labour market. The rate of women’s participation is still unsatisfactory, a matter which constitutes a major obstacle in our development process that we have to overcome.
The Arab region is witnessing civil wars and sectarian conflicts in which terrorists have shed the blood of innocents, going beyond the region to hit in different locations across the world, making us more convinced and determined to continue the war against the forces of darkness and the khawarej of this age. Jordan will honour its regional and international commitments to fighting terrorism, for this is our fight as Muslims in the first place. It is our religious duty to defend Islam, a faith of tolerance, and protect the future of our children and their right to live in safety and stability.
Jordan will remain strong and secure, God willing, thanks to the efforts of the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and security agencies, which have always stood as an impenetrable barrier in the face of anyone attempting to threaten the security and stability of this country. In this context, I voice my appreciation and pride in my comrades in arms, and underline their right to receive the support that enables them to continue performing their noble national duties with utmost excellence, efficiency and professionalism.
Throughout the decades, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been able to assume a well-respected position amongst countries of the world through the Kingdom’s strong credibility, regional and international relations as well as honouring international covenants and treaties. The Government must continue this approach, which distinguishes our foreign policy and identity in the international arena.
Jordan has been, and will always be, committed to its historical stands, defending the causes of its Arab and Islamic nation. With God’s help, we will always be the main supporter of our Palestinian brethren and will deploy our international ties to push for the establishment of their independent state on their national soil, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and in line with the Arab Peace Initiative and legitimate international resolutions. Out of our religious and historical responsibility and our custodianship over the holy sites of Jerusalem, the city will remain a duty we are honoured to carry and defend against all attempts to violate its holy sites and change its status quo.
As I express my confidence in your ability to assume your responsibilities and in your commitment to implementing our directives on the ground, I await the names of your Cabinet ministers, assuring you that you have all my support.
May God grant you success and help you shoulder your responsibility and serve our dear country and faithful people.
Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
22 Shaban 1437
29 May 2016”