SUN 24 - 3 - 2019
Date: Oct 16, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Jordan’s king vows to fight corruption after protests
AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II Sunday vowed authorities would crack down on corruption in the country, following mass protests against graft and price rises earlier this year.

“All Jordanians have an equal right to justice, and corruption will not be left unaddressed to become a chronic social illness,” the king said in a speech to mark the opening of Parliament in Amman.

“I hereby affirm that the state’s institutions are well capable of uprooting corruption and holding to account those who dare to encroach on public funds,” he added.

Thousands of Jordanians hit the streets at the start of June to protest against corruption, price rises and austerity measures.

The week of mass demonstrations forced the prime minister’s resignation and the withdrawal of a controversial income tax bill.

With a lack of natural resources to boost state coffers, Jordan relies heavily on foreign aid and faces an unemployment rate of 18.5 percent.

In 2016, Amman secured a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund, but the resultant economic reforms led to price hikes.

The king acknowledged “dissatisfaction with the way current challenges are being addressed.”

“The process of development in Jordan, as in other countries, has been marred by some mistakes and challenges, which we must learn from, resolve and prevent from reoccurring, so that we may move forward,” he said.

Abdullah put the situation down to “a weakening [of] public trust in government institutions, as well as an atmosphere of skepticism.”

Stability in Jordan is seen as fundamental to the region and in the wake of protests Amman was offered a $2.5 billion aid package from three Gulf backers.

More than around $1 billion has already been deposited in the central bank by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, a Jordanian government source said earlier this month.

Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz Thursday announced a cabinet reshuffle that officials said consolidates the grip of technocrats charged with speeding up IMF-guided reforms.

Razzaz downsized the 29-member cabinet to 27 ministers, and removed the health and higher education ministers over alleged nepotism scandals, in an apparent bid to calm widespread discontent over rising economic hardship and corruption. However, he kept the key Interior, Finance and Foreign Ministry portfolios unchanged.

Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, was appointed by King Abdullah to replace Hani al-Mulki in June.

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