Jordan’s King Abdullah II appointed a veteran independent politician on Wednesday as his new caretaker prime minister ahead of parliamentary elections — the last time he will make such an appointment, according to his own reform plan. The appointment of Abdullah Ensour is part of the king’s political roadmap that addresses popular pressure for a broader role in decision-making. It paves the way for elections scheduled for the end of this year or early 2013. That parliament will choose the next prime minister. The changes were decreed by Abdullah earlier this year to transfer more power to elected bodies and forestall any chance of an Arab Spring-style uprising similar to those that toppled regimes elsewhere in the region.
Ensour, a 73-year-old former lawmaker and deputy prime minister, is identified with the Arab nationalist trend in Jordanian politics but also has good ties with the Islamist opposition. “Ensour’s government is the last before Jordan’s transition to parliamentary governments,” a statement from the royal palace said.
He replaces Fayez Tarawneh, who resigned as mandated by the king’s constitutional changes, which stipulate that the Cabinet must step down if parliament was dissolved. The legislature was disbanded last week, halfway through its four-year term, setting the stage for the upcoming elections.