Jordan's King Abdullah vows to allow elected cabinets

King Abdullah waves to crowds in Amman, Jordan (11 June 2011) Few protesters have called for King Abdullah to become only a figurehead ruler

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King Abdullah of Jordan has bowed to demands for reform, saying future cabinets will be formed according to an elected parliamentary majority.

In a televised speech marking his 12th year as Jordan's ruler, King Abdullah promised to relinquish his right to appoint prime ministers and cabinets.

It is the first time he has made such a concession publicly to his citizens, and follows six months of protests.

But he did not say when exactly this would take place.

It is believed the king first wants to see Jordan's splintered 33 political parties merge into three main political blocs from which cabinets can be formed.

Jordanians taking part in the mainly peaceful protests have been demanding more political say and that the monarch loosen his absolute grip on power, which includes appointing prime ministers and cabinets.

Although they have demanded new parliamentary elections and some changes to the constitution to give them more democratic rights, most say they do not want the king to become a figurehead ruler, such as the UK's Queen Elizabeth II.

King Abdullah added that more reforms would be announced, including new election and political party laws, but warned that sudden change could lead to "chaos and unrest" like in other Arab countries.

Jordan has averted the turmoil seen in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.

At the outset of the protests in February, the king sacked his prime minister who protesters accused of being insensitive to their economic hardships and quickly set up a national dialogue committee to discuss much needed political and economic reforms.

Protests in the country, an ally of the United States, have been relatively small and generally peaceful, although one person has died and tens were wounded in the occasional unrest.

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