Amman (Jordan): Jordan’s king has buckled under the pressure of protestors for elected cabinets but has yet to give any timetable.

It was the first time that King Abdullah II has made such a concession to Jordanians, who have taken to the streets during six months of pro-democracy protests to demand a greater political say in this key US Arab ally.

Many Jordanians want the king to loosen his absolute grip on power, which includes appointing Prime Ministers and Cabinets.

In the televised speech on Sunday marking his 12th year as Jordan's ruler, Abdullah said future Cabinets will be formed according to an elected parliamentary majority. He did not say when the change would take place, but suggested that it would come after relevant laws are in place.

Political analyst Labib Kamhawi said the king's remarks were a "step forward, but we have to wait and see the final outcome."

"The speech was positive on critical issues like electing a prime minister in the future," added Kamhawi, who is usually an outspoken critic of the king's policies. "But we want to see more being done for wider civil liberties and less security interference in the affairs of the state."

The king also promised further changes without elaborating, saying that a royal commission is now exploring "possible amendments" to the constitution appropriate for Jordan's "present and future."

When Abdullah ascended to the throne in 1999, he floated the idea of a constitutional monarchy similar to the British system of power, but little has been said since. As pro-democracy revolutions have swept through the region, Jordan's king has faced increasing pressure to speed up reforms or risk unrest in his tiny kingdom.

A similar movement in Morocco is also calling for reducing the powers of that country's monarchy and strengthening the prime minister's position.

Jordanians have been demanding a new parliament that would replace the existing one that is widely seen as docile. A small group of activists also says it wants the king to also relinquish all his power and become only a figure head of state.

But major political parties such as the powerful Muslim Brotherhood have rejected that call, describing the king a "stabilising influence." Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu Bakr warned reforms were needed to "avoid the tragedies taking place in the region."


(Agencies)