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December 10, 2009
New Jordanian prime minister from long line of politicians

Petra, Jordan. Photo: flickr user gr33ndata

Jordan’s King Abdallah named a new Prime Minister yesterday. Samir Rifai, a former minister of the Royal Court, is the third member of his family to hold the post.

Bloggers in Jordan have taken note of the change and are speculating about its meaning.

In the Observations of a Jordanian blog, engineering student Farah writes:

While the decision to dissolve the parliament about two weeks ago was met with pure joy and relief, the appointment of a new prime minister was met with either disappointment or most probably indifference. Sameer Rifai, the new prime minister is the third generation of a family of prime ministers, something that probably happens only in Jordan.

I like to think of the whole thing as a game. There’s this circle of elitists, the ones allowed to play, all of whom at one point or another were ministers or CEOs and every couple of years one of them gets their turn as the top player. Now this top player would proceed to “reshuffle” the current players, or if he’s looking for some change, add a couple of new ones. The field that each player is in charge of is truly irrelevant to their area of expertise. Now once the parliament is elected, the game of who destroys who first begins! Fun fun fun.

So I don’t really think it matters who gets picked as the prime minister, the same cycle of events seems to repeat itself regardless of how optimistic we are of the new government. But not to be part of the blame culture, because we should take the blame as well. We should be part of a responsible, incorrupt election that would result in a parliament that speaks for the citizens rather than attack them, but hey that’s just wishful thinking.

That sentiment was echoed by a commentator at the blog Black Iris.

Just heard the news about an hour ago that Samir Rifai, who as of yesterday headed the Jordan Dubai Capital corporation, has been appointed as the next Prime Minister of Jordan. I don’t really know what to say about this piece of news. It is, from at least this citizen’s point of view, not the most optimistic news about the state of my country’s domestic affairs.

In response to that post, “Musa” writes,

Why is it so hard for anyone with a significant background and vast interest in Jordanian politics to realise/admit the fact that there is nothing called “politics, domestic affairs or governance” in Jordan outside of the autocratic ruler, his police apparatus and his parasites?

Hopefully, stripping down the theatre of the absurd from all the puppets and proxies that managed to keep people busy for the past decade should help expose the true puppet master using them as his scapegoats, and hopefully that will prompt more people to start questioning the real decision maker who dissolves the parliament, cancels the elections, and assigns a new government of cronies – while on a trip to Paris. Yet still manages to be exempted of any responsibility!

But a post at the blog JordanWatch reads between the lines of the King’s announcement and says it lays out a “really impressive” set of principles – in theory.

What I have been interested in is the content of the letter of designation sent by the King. It had a rather detailed “roadmap” for the new government in a scope that is wider than the conventional letters of designation. What struck me was the King’s emphasis on developing and implementing a package of codes of honor in governance. Here are the King’s exact words:

“We also instruct you to issue a code of honour based on the Constitution and the law that clarifies the moral and legal criteria that the ministers must be committed to throughout their public service. This document will be a public document and an additional reference for Jordanians in judging the performance of the ministerial team. The government should also issue a similar document to which all public servants at every level must commit. For our people are ready to bear any hardship and confront every challenge if they are convinced that those serving them in state institutions are doing their jobs within institutional frameworks and under legal monitoring and are fortified against all forms of corruption, abuse of public office and manipulation of the law.”

Now, regarding the unhealthy relation between deputees and the government, the King says:

“The government should reassess its method of dealing with Parliament so as to restore this relationship as a cooperative and complementary one that serves the national interest, and whereby the authorities each practise their constitutional authority without one trespassing the other or reaching interest-based understandings that would make achieving personal gains a condition for the stability of the relationship between the two authorities. In order to ensure that the mistakes of the past do not recur, we ask you to draft a protocol, to which your team should be committed, that outlines the rules of engagement with Parliament in accordance with the Constitution and the law…

So what we have now at the table is a really impressive set of principles that revolve around the virtue of honesty in governance. If an effective level of honesty can be introduced in the approach to governance in Jordan we will witness a great enhancement of performance and proper use of resources, whether financial, institutional or human.

– Rebecca Haggerty

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give it another 6 months before it dissolve, a time set to steal as much as u can


Thanks for pointing out the error, Farah – it’s fixed.


Thanks for quoting me, but the name’s Farah with an R. :)

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