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Jordan prime minister resigns, is replaced

He left after 6 months. One source cited a dispute with the king.

AMMAN, Jordan - Jordan's prime minister resigned suddenly Thursday, just six months after he took office with a pledge to push for political reforms, and was quickly replaced by a veteran politician known to be close to the king.

Jordan state TV announced that King Abdullah II, an absolute ruler, issued a royal decree accepting Awn al-Khasawneh's resignation.

A government official said Abdullah named Fayez Tarawneh as a successor. He served as premier more than a decade ago, when Abdullah assumed power.

The sudden switch appears to reflect disagreements between Khasawneh and the king over reforms, particularly a law to govern this year's parliamentary elections.

Critics have contended that an early draft of the law favored the king's traditional backers by drawing districts that maximized representation for Bedouin tribes.

Khasawneh was working on a revised law to even out the representation, but that drew criticism from Jordan's powerful security services and conservative tribal elders.

Khasawneh resigned at his own initiative during a trip abroad, the official said, apparently displeased with the king's decision to extend a session of parliament to debate the bill. The official insisted on anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

The sudden switchover in premiers indicated that public pressure may be having some effect on the king.

Jordanian protesters demanding political reforms have been taking to the streets sporadically for 15 months, though in smaller numbers than elsewhere in the Arab world, where popular uprisings toppled longtime rulers of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen.

Khasawneh, 61, a liberal known as a clean politician, took office Oct. 17, pledging to speed up the reforms.

Tarawneh, 62, is an ex-ambassador to the United States who headed the Jordanian team that negotiated a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.