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Optimism, scepticism in the air around Cabinet reshuffle

By Rana Husseini - Nov 07,2019 - Last updated at Nov 07,2019

AMMAN — Activists and citizens on Thursday expressed scepticism about the newly reshuffled government’s ability to bring in change, saying that addressing economic concerns should remain the top priority.

Mohammad Nasser, an accountant, said that what matters is the results. 

“We should wait to see what this reshuffle will result in. This will most likely be the last reshuffle for the premier, so the team deserves this opportunity to prove what they can do,” said Nasser. 

“The government should focus on addressing unemployment and economic woes. It should work to enhance public services, which are not the best,” said Nasser. 

Lawyer and activist Omar Atout told The Jordan Times said that he “has no expectations from the limited government reshuffle by Prime Minister Omar Razzaz ”.

“The new government and the last four governments are the same to me, and changing governments every four months is not healthy and will not guarantee the stability they need in order to implement their long-term strategies,” Atout said.

Media and Advocacy Strategist Tamara Khzouz added her voice to Atout’s, saying that “the reshuffle is no longer relevant to people, and the government needs to work on gaining people’s trust”.

“In order for the government to overcome the problem of people’s mistrust, it needs to seriously work on the political development reform and needs to set a strong election law to ensure a stronger Parliament,” Khzouz told The Jordan Times.

Adel Dhiab, a salesman at a private company, said the challenges the government is facing are “immense”. 

“We want results. We want better services and better education and better transport and better medical services,” said Dhiab to The Jordan Times. 

In the same vein, Jamal Haj Abed, a worker at a garment store, said: “There is a big decline in sales and cost of living is increasing in Jordan...the government should implement projects and take all the steps it can to improve the situation, as the solution is not by imposing new taxes all the time.” 

“We want better economic conditions. I believe this is the number one priority at this stage...we cannot tolerate more taxes...it’s the government job to find solutions,” Abed told The Jordan Times. 

A political analyst who preferred anonymity, told The Jordan Times that previous government reshuffle experiences have taught people to “lower their expectations”. 

“The reshuffle is rarely about a drastic change in strategy, approach or vision, but a shot to rejuvenate the government and its life,” the political analyst said. 

“It is never understood why certain ministers leave, why others remain and why the new ones are being selected,” the political analyst added. 

The geographical and tribal quotas “are the only constant in this never-ending mix and reappointment of individuals. The only indicator by which people can judge a reshuffle is through looking at individual ministries”, according to the analyst. 

“Some ministers who have been taken out were perceived positively by the public, so it was not easy to understand why they left. Some ministers who were added carry an additional value as individuals, but it remains to be seen how the overall dynamic will turn out to be,” the analyst said.  

Executive president of the Centre of Defending Freedom of Journalists Nidal Mansour pointed out that Thursday’s reshuffle is considered the “last chance for Premier Razzaz”.

“Razzaz’s economic team has admitted that it failed in dealing with the economic portfolio, and what we need at this point in time is a strong economic team that will deal with the problems related to people’s standard of living and address poverty, among other deep problems,” Mansour said. 

Mansour told The Jordan Times that another challenge Razzaz will face is achieving a “good economic and political reform so that reflects on the situation of human rights, freedom of speech and expression, and stronger civil societies”. 

 Mansour also said another major challenge in the path of the new government is “dealing with the MPs who are in their final year of service”.

“The government might face a lot of challenges and objections from some deputies who want to oppose the government policies to gain more popularity in preparation for the new elections,” Mansour explained.

Social media users were more critical about the reshuffle, with many stressing that “nothing will change”.

Mohammad Manaseer posted on social media: “The same faces every time, and nothing will ever change.”

Rami Othman wrote on Facebook: “Please focus on improving citizens’ wellbeing rather than collecting money from our pockets”.

Amal Hanin was more optimistic with her comment on Facebook.

“Congratulations to all the new ministers and I wish them luck in serving our beloved country,” Hanin wrote.

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