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Jordan's prime minister 'resigns'

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Awn Al-Khasawneh, Jordan's prime minister has resigned, officials have said.

Khasawneh, who is on an official visit to Turkey, quit on Thursday and King Abdullah II accepted his resignation but has not yet named a replacement, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.

There was no immediate explanation for the resignation.

Khasawneh took office on October 17, pledging to speed up reforms needed to hold parliamentary elections and give more political say to Jordanians.

Khasawneh, 62, was asked to form a government last October by King Abdullah after protests calling for faster political reforms in the kingdom.

But his proposed election law drew criticism, including from tribal parliamentarians and the powerful intelligence services, who felt it favoured Islamist politicians.

Adnan Al Hayajneh, a professor of political science at the Hashemite University in Amman, said the two men have disagreed on political reforms.

"I think there is a difference between the king's and prime minister's approach regarding political reforms and the pace of political reform," he said.

"I think the king promised the Jordanian public on many occasions - and he repeated this in his speech to the European parliament - that elections will be held before the end of this year. It seems to the king the prime minister is not capable of achieving that."

A minister who declined to be named said Khasawneh took the unusual step of submitting his resignation while outside the country in response to a decision to extend a parliamentary session in which he was likely to face further criticism.

"It was a surprise move. The prime minister was unhappy about the decision to extend parliament," the minister said.


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