al bakhit portrait298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Jordan's King Abdullah II on Sunday swore in a new Cabinet headed by his former national security chief, who pledged to restore the nation's reputation as a haven of stability in the volatile Mideast, while nurturing reforms and freedom.
Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit told Abdullah following the brief ceremony that "security and stability will remain a Jordanian distinction, despite the terrorist incident which targeted innocent people in the capital of your kingdom."
Al-Bakhit was designated prime minister following the Nov. 9 triple Amman hotel blasts which killed 63 people, including three Iraqi suicide bombers.
"My government will maintain the balance between freedom and security and we will not allow one to dominate the other," he said.
Abdullah issued a royal decree endorsing al-Bakhit's 24-member Cabinet, including eight holdovers from the outgoing Cabinet of Prime Minister Adnan Badran, which resigned Thursday.
State-run Jordan Television showed clips of the swearing-in ceremony at Basman Palace.
The suicide bombings only "strengthened our resolve to continue our pre-emptive war on terrorism and the Takfiri culture, which is alien to our society," he added, referring to the ideology of radical Muslims who regard all Muslims who disagree with their doctrine as infidels.
Al-Bakhit said Jordanians were aware that militant Islam was contradictory to the human, civilized and moral values of Islam.
He warned that Jordan's "higher interests are a red line, which no one will be allowed to trespass."
Al-Bakhit vowed to press ahead with reforms, saying they will "neither be unilateral, nor just slogans, but a comprehensive and integrated program."
An early step would be the introduction of new laws governing parliamentary elections and political parties. These two laws are widely criticized by hard-line opposition groups as restrictive and meant to strengthen the hand of the state.
The new prime minister promised dialogue with the entire Jordanian political spectrum and the participation of all in decision-making, particularly on issues related to national policies, including socio-economic plans.
He said a top priority would be to fight rampant poverty and unemployment through programs to be outlined soon.