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Jordan's king swears in new Cabinet

King Abdullah II swore in a new Cabinet Wednesday assigned to enact laws necessary for political reforms and holding elections, reflecting his impatience over the pace of change.

Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh replaced Awn al-Khasawneh, who resigned last Thursday over differences with the king. Abdullah blamed him for failing to push hard enough for promised reforms, which include introducing three laws governing parliamentary elections, political parties and an independent electoral commission.

Jordan has had 17 months of low-level unrest over demands for more political say and objections to an election law that draws districts to boost the king's backers among Bedouin tribes.

The unrest has not reached the fever pitch of other Mideast countries during the Arab Spring, and the reign of Abdullah, a close U.S. ally, is not seen as endangered. His stated support for reforms has blunted much of the protest.

The 30-member Cabinet includes for the first time a minister to oversee women's affairs, according to a list released by the palace. It was the first time that such a ministry has been established. It is headed by female journalist Nadia Hashim.

The Cabinet is dominated by conservative technocrats and professionals, including judges and lawyers.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and Planning Minister Jaafar Hassan — both familiar faces in Washington — retained their posts.

The Interior portfolio went to Ghaleb Zoubi, a former police commissioner known for his moderate approach in dealings with citizens. Jordanian protesters accused the previous minister of unjustified detentions and instances of torture.

Tarawneh, 62, is a veteran conservative politician known to be close to the king. He served as a premier more than a decade ago, when Abdullah assumed power.

He is an ex-ambassador to the U.S. who headed the Jordanian team that negotiated a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Al-Khasawneh served as prime minister for just six months after leaving his job as a judge in the Hague-based International Court of Justice.

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Additional reporting by Associated Press writer Dale Gavlak.