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Jordan PM reshuffles cabinet as IMF reforms come into focus

Jordan PM reshuffles cabinet as IMF reforms come into focus

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz announced a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday as the government looks to push through reforms intended to revive stagnant economic growth and cut public expenditure.

Al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, was appointed by King Abdullah II in June to replace Hani al-Mulki, who resigned to defuse a crisis that saw some of the largest protests in years over planned IMF-driven austerity measures, including tax hikes.

Seen as a better communicator than his predecessor, al-Razzaz had promised to restore public trust in a country where many blame successive governments for failing to deliver on pledges of reviving growth that is stuck at around two percent, cutting waste and curbing corruption.

But instead, he installed many old-guard conservatives and tribal figures in his cabinet who had held sway in previous administrations, and critics – who have so far stopped short of calling for new street protests – say he has taken no clear steps to hold anyone accountable for corruption.

Al-Razzaz also angered unions and civic bodies when he introduced an IMF-inspired bill in September, making only cosmetic changes to one that brought down al-Mulki.