Jordan’s new cabinet sworn in amid growing economic pressure

Amman, Oct 12 (efe-epa).– Jordan’s newly designated Prime Minister Bishr al-Khasawneh took an oath of office along with his new cabinet, a royal court statement confirmed Monday, amid growing economic challenges due to coronavirus restrictions.

King Abdullah II tasked al-Khasawneh last week with forming a new government following the resignation of his predecessor Omar Razzaz.

Al-Khasawneh, 51, is a diplomat and had been acting as a policy advisor to the king recently.

As per the constitution, the outgoing government’s resignation was expected ahead of the 10 November legislative elections.

The 32-member cabinet brought several fresh faces, including health minister Nathir Obeidat, according to an official spokesman for the National Epidemics Committee.

Foreign minister Ayman Safadi and finance minister Mohammad al-Issis have retained their posts.

The appointments came as the country grappled with a sharp increase of coronavirus cases and deaths since the first week of August after managing to control the spread of the virus in the first four months of the pandemic since mid-March.

A total of 24,926 coronavirus cases have been recorded in Jordan so far, with 191 deaths, according to figures released by the health ministry.

Earlier this month, Jordanian authorities decided to impose full lockdowns across the country on Fridays and Saturdays until further notice, which has increased the pressure on an economy expected to decline by 3.7 percent in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Neighboring conflicts, an influx of refugees and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic have left the Jordanian economy strained, leading the government to take loans from the IMF.

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