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Sun 25 Nov 2007 03:15 PM

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Jordan's king swears in gov't after election controversy

King Abdullah II appoints new gov't charged with speeding up modernisation.

Jordan's king swears in gov't after election controversy
King Abdullah II, pictured, appointed Prime Minister Nader Dahabi on Thursday to replace Marouf Al-Bakheet. (Getty Images)

Jordan's pro-US. King Abdullah II swore in a new government on Sunday charged with speeding up modernisation of the kingdom.

Prime Minister Nader Dahabi, a former air force chief who transformed the special economic zone in the Red Sea port of Aqaba into a haven for multi-billion dollar investments, was appointed by the king on Thursday to replace Marouf Al-Bakheet, who resigned following last week's parliamentary elections.

The parliamentary elections, which were marred by accusations of vote buying and fraud, consolidated the power of tribal leaders, pro-government figures and businessmen on the 110-assembly.

Officials said the 28-member cabinet included a moderate Islamist figure alongside technocrats, businessmen and four women to widen its national appeal while emphasising its outward looking business focus.

The cabinet line-up is likely to continue Jordan's free market reforms that critics say have deepened the divide between rich and poor and traditional support for US policies in the region, officials have said.

The liberal leaning cabinet's make up is meant to win public support among a restive population, angry about curtailing freedoms the former government had justified on security grounds.