May 2, 2012 / 3:27 PM / 7 years ago

Jordan swears in new conservative-dominated cabinet

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan’s King Abdullah swore in a government dominated by conservatives under new Prime Minister Fayez al-Tarawneh on Wednesday and tasked it with preparing parliamentary elections expected later this year.

Tarawneh’s government was installed after the surprise resignation last week of his predecessor Awn Khasawneh, a respected international judge, in a move politicians attributed to a power struggle with the security services.

During his six months in office, Khasawneh had tried to persuade the Islamist opposition to drop their boycott of elections which they say are unfair because the rules favor tribal and rural areas over their urban strongholds.

His departure makes it less likely the Islamists will come in from the cold, politicians say.

King Abdullah appointed Tarawneh, a U.S.-educated politician who has previously held several senior government post, on Thursday and asked him to speed up political reforms which the monarch blamed Khaswaneh for slowing.

Politicians say Khasawneh had been entangled in a struggle over prerogatives with the intelligence services, or mukhabarat.

The powerful mukhabarat were said to be unhappy with Khasawneh’s handling of a major anti-corruption campaign that resulted in many judicial probes against senior officials.

Khasawneh had also proposed electoral reform that drew fire from many sides. Tribal lawmakers felt it favored Islamists, while some Islamists were unhappy because its proposed party list system might have curbed the number of seats they could win.

Tarawneh is Jordan’s fourth prime minister in 14 months. King Abdullah has often changed governments to shore up tribal support, a backbone of his monarchy, and placate protesters inspired by pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Alistair Lyon

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