To Awn Khasawneh

From King Abdallah II of Jordan
To Awn Khasawneh
17 October 2011
Translated from Arabic

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate

Peace, God’s Mercy and Blessings be upon the Prophet Mohammad and his Family and Companions

Your Excellency Awn Khasawneh,
Peace and God’s Mercy and Blessings be upon you,

I extend my warmest and sincerest wishes for your good health, happiness and success.

For many years now I have known you as a loyal soldier of your country and I followed with interest your distinguished service as Chief of the Royal Hashemite Court under my father, His Majesty the late King Hussein bin Talal. Indeed, in all positions you served and all responsibilities you shouldered, you demonstrated great integrity, devotion and competence.

We have all known you as a distinguished legal authority on the international level, with qualifications that have earned you one of the highest legal posts in the world – that of Judge and Vice President of the International Court of Justice.

Political reform characterises the current phase in the journey of our beloved Jordan. The latest constitutional amendments now require a comprehensive review and approval of much of the legislation governing political life in Jordan within the comprehensive reform vision. I have known you as a person of incorruptible integrity, with vast legal experience and international standing. I have also known you as a person who carries out his responsibilities with diligence, devotion and efficiency. Now, after accepting the resignation of Dr. Marouf Al-Bakhit’s government, in light of many in-depth discussions with Jordanian civil society components and entities, and in light of the petition we received from a parliamentary majority, I hereby entrust you with the formation of a new government that will continue to move forward on all aspects of reform and modernisation, delivering on all the requirements of this phase, and building upon the accomplishments of previous governments.

Mr. Prime Minister,

Completing the march towards political reform requires reviewing and introducing many laws and legislation in line with the new Constitution, which seeks to enhance public participation and the role of civil society in decision-making, within a framework of freedom, pluralism and the rule of law.

Accordingly, it is essential that:

First, priority must be given to the completion of legislation and laws that regulate political life, at the forefront of which are the Election and Political Parties Laws. These should be agreed upon through an effective and constructive national dialogue with the entire political spectrum and civic institutions, before they are approved through the established constitutional channels. We remember God Almighty’s injunction:
And those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them, (Al-Shura, 42:38)

Second, connected to these two laws, is the establishment of an independent commission to oversee the elections. This must include the ideal mechanism for achieving the highest degree of transparency, integrity and neutrality. All of this will set the groundwork for the next parliamentary elections. I emphasise that these elections must be free, fair and transparent. This will result in a House of Deputies that will embody the will of the people, represent all segments of society, and competently, capably, effectively and efficiently fulfil its legislative and monitoring functions. In addition, the Constitutional Court Law must be ratified in order to provide a specific frame of reference to rule on the constitutionality of laws and legislation.
Third, there must be a comprehensive review of the issue of municipal elections. This is to ensure that these elections meet the highest standards of integrity and impartiality, so that municipalities may fulfil their main role of serving local communities. They must be established in a way that paves the way for future decentralisation and local governance plan.

Fourth, the government must spare no effort to enforce the principles of transparency, accountability and the rule of law. The government must also guarantee justice and equal opportunity, and fight favouritism and nepotism. Equally, the government must enhance the anti-corruption system so as to deter corruption before it occurs and hold the corrupt accountable without procrastination or delay, irrespective of their position, social status or any other considerations, so that citizens can see how serious and effective we are in countering this phenomenon, which undermines the credibility and authority of state institutions. All must be held accountable, and no one is above the law. At the same time, I want to reiterate that the due process must be guaranteed and that all support must be extended to the Anti-Corruption Commission and other monitoring bodies.
Fifth, our national unity is a red line that we will not allow anyone to cross. It is not to be harmed in any way, shape or form, it must remain above any differences and disputes, always.

Sixth, media liberalisation must take place in tandem with the preservation of professionalism and credibility. The media must be open to all political opinions and orientations in a manner that ensures that all types of media — print, audio-visual and online media — serve as platforms for constructive national dialogue. The media should shun demagoguery and incitement, refrain from undermining the country’s image and from  character assassination. No one has the right to claim a monopoly on the truth or a monopoly on concern for the national good. I emphasise here the need for all forms of expression - protests and peaceful marches - to be conducted in accordance with the law and to be based on respect for all opinions. When democratic environment, press freedom and freedom of speech are exploited to serve personal agendas and purposes, or to undermine the reform process or national unity, then this is a matter to be referred to the judiciary.

Seventh, improving our citizens’ living standards is our most critical priority and this demands that the government execute development, economic and social programmes. At the forefront of this is enhancing economic stability, boosting growth, tackling poverty and unemployment, improving the investment climate , attracting investments that create jobs— especially for the youth — and putting in place appropriate mechanisms to maximise benefits  from the recently-established Fund for the Development of Governorates, in close coordination with local communities, each according to their needs and priorities. In addition, all efforts that aim to empower youth and women, and to widen the middle class must be fostered.

Eighth, we seek to implement the best possible approach to government administration, an approach based on consultation with local bodies, the private sector and civil society institutions, in order to identify priorities, suggest appropriate solutions, and then expedite implementation and completion, according to constitutional channels, without delays, postponements, favouritisms, and appeasement.

Ninth, as for our armed forces and our security services, they enjoy our utmost trust and make us all proud. They have my, and the Jordanian people’s thanks and appreciation for their professionalism, proficiency, patience, self-control and true Jordanian conduct in dealing with what our country has witnessed in terms of demonstrations and/or  public turmoil. They must receive all support they require in terms of training, preparation, equipment, and decent living so that they may continue to fulfil their duty to protect our beloved homeland and preserve its security, stability and accomplishments with efficiency and competence.

Tenth, our devotion to our Arab nation and our commitment to defend its just causes require the utmost consultation with our Arab brethren on all issues that concern our Arab and Islamic nations. Our cooperation with them, and joint Arab endeavour, must be encouraged and enhanced. In this framework, our brethren have welcomed Jordan to join the Gulf Cooperation Council. This is an invitation that we appreciate, as much as we appreciate their continuous support and solidarity, and in particular the supportive stands of my brother, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The government must work with our brothers in the GCC to achieve this goal and translate our joint vision into a tangible reality whose benefits all parties may reap.

As for the Palestinian cause, it is our primary cause and the cause of every Arab and every Muslim and we are committed to our principled and firm stand to offer all support, to the maximum of our capabilities, to our Palestinian brethren, in their struggle to regain their legitimate rights and establish their independent state on their national soil, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will also continue to fulfil our historic role in preserving Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, and will oppose all attempts to threaten or undermine them.

I also affirm to Your Excellency, and to the world at large, that any settlement regarding the Palestinian cause will never be at Jordan’s expense or the expense of any of our national interests.  

Mr. Prime Minister,

The primary mission of this government is to implement a political reform process with clear milestones, not just arbitrary timetables. The government must also draft legislation and laws and conduct municipal elections. This demands coordination between the legislative and executive branches, and neither must encroach upon the other. It also necessitates drawing a roadmap to achieve political reform based on clear foundations and criteria. Citizens must be kept abreast of achievements at each stage, as they materialise, for the challenges facing Jordan at this time are both great and complex. There are many political objectives that must be achieved as soon as possible together with the implementation of economic and social development programmes that will have a positive impact on the living standards of our citizens.  

I have great confidence in you, Mr. Prime Minister. I await your nominations, after the necessary consultations and within a reasonable timeframe that will allow you to choose ministers who are competent, experienced and committed to a vision of reform. Your ministers will share with you the burden of responsibility. You and your colleagues, the ministers, will have my full support, and I will be closely following up on your progress.

I beseech the Almighty to bless us all with success in serving Him and His servants in our beloved country and our Arab and Islamic nations.

Issued from Basman Palace
Amman on 19th  Dhul Qi’dah, 1432
17th October, 2011

May Peace and God’s Mercy be upon you.