To Samir Rifai

From King Abdallah II of Jordan
To Samir Rifai
09 December 2009
Translated from Arabic

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

Dear Prime Minister Samir Rifai,

Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you,

Now that we have accepted the resignation of the government of His Excellency Nader Dahabi, we charge you with forming a new cabinet that will build on the achievements of our cherished country and that will address the pitfalls and shortcomings through an institutionalised programme that is based on a clear agenda with performance indicators that ensure the translation of our vision of reform into reality; an agenda whose positive impact would reflect on all spheres of life in our cherished land; an agenda that would ensure our people the decent life to which they are entitled, a life of security, ripe with possibilities for achievement.

The process of reform and modernisation started several years ago, and we are determined to continue the process in order to build on the plans, programmes and objectives of the National Agenda and that can achieve the prosperity and progress for our country.

Achieving these objectives requires that the formation of your cabinet is inspired by a seamless work plan that identifies specific objectives in every sector and defines timelines for the implementation and achievement of these objectives. This is necessary so that performance can be evaluated, decisions accordingly made and responsibilities appropriately assigned. Therefore, ministers should be chosen according to the criteria of competence, efficiency and commitment to the priorities of the next phase, the conditions confronting this phase and the practical plans for implementation. In light of this, we direct you to take ample time to discuss these objectives, programmes and implementation mechanisms with the candidates for your ministerial team. This is necessary so that every minister is aware of both the objectives that he is expected to achieve and the criteria by which his performance will be evaluated.

In order to achieve the results to which we aspire, we expect you to present, after no more than two months after the government's formation, a work plan for every ministry that has been discussed and adopted by the Council of Ministers, to ensure that everyone works as one harmonious team, with a clear vision and aware of the expectations of it. This way, our people will know the principles according to which their government is working and the objectives that it is expected to achieve with transparency. For, we desire a government that works with confidence, transparency and team spirit in the service of the public interest, with no laxity or hesitation in decision-making out of fear or out of consideration for momentary publicity or out of a desire to appease - all of which have cost our country many opportunities to distinguish itself and to achieve positive change.

We stress here the need to be committed to the law in every task the government undertakes. While we stress this, we also instruct you to issue a code of honour based on the Constitution and the law that clarifies the moral and legal criteria that the ministers must be committed to throughout their public service. This document will be a public document and an additional reference for Jordanians in judging the performance of the ministerial team. The government should also issue a similar document to which all public servants at every level must commit. For our people are ready to bear any hardship and confront every challenge if they are convinced that those serving them in state institutions are doing their jobs within institutional frameworks and under legal monitoring and are fortified against all forms of corruption, abuse of public office and manipulation of the law.

Mr. Prime Minister, we want your government to make qualitative steps in our reform, modernisation and development process, to which we are committed as the ultimate necessity in building the Jordan of the future: secure, stable and prosperous. And reform is a comprehensive political, economic, administrative and social regime that does not reach its fullest potential unless it is pursued equally in all sectors. While we consider economic reform a priority, as it has a direct impact on the lives of the people for whom we seek to achieve only the best as our primary objective, we believe that economic reform will not achieve its objectives if it is not accompanied by political reform that ensures the highest level of participation in decision-making through effective institutions that are capable of working transparently and objectively to multiply our achievements and confront dereliction of duty and shortcomings according to the Constitution and the law.

Since we have issued decrees to dissolve Parliament and called for new parliamentary elections that are a model of integrity, impartiality and transparency, your government's main task is to take the necessary steps, including amending the elections law and improving electoral procedures, to ensure that the next elections are a qualitative leap in our development and modernisation process, whereby every Jordanian is able to practice their right to campaign and to elect and to choose a legislature that is capable of exercising its constitutional role of monitoring the government, writing legislation and contributing effectively to the adoption of democracy as culture and a practice in our beloved homeland.

The government should reassess its method of dealing with Parliament so as to restore this relationship as a cooperative and complementary one that serves the national interest, and whereby the authorities each practice their constitutional authority without one trespassing the other or reaching interest-based understandings that would make achieving personal gains a condition for the stability of the relationship between the two authorities. In order to ensure that the mistakes of the past do not recur, we ask you to draft a protocol, to which your team should be committed, that outlines the rules of engagement with Parliament in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

We hope that the new Parliament would also issue a similar document so as to reassure Jordanians that the relationship between the executive and legislative authorities is governed by criteria that serve the public interest and reflects the legal and political complementarity that is necessary to serve the country and that are not hostage to narrow considerations.

The next elections, which should be held no later than the last quarter of 2010, constitute a major step in developing our democratic performance and strengthening public participation in the political development process. But we would like them to be part of a comprehensive political development programme that addresses all obstacles to this development; that contributes to the advancement of the work of political parties and their platforms; and that opens the door for all Jordanians to participate.

We await, in this regard, your decisions about ways to implement the decentralisation project in order to achieve qualitative development in decision-making mechanisms and to ensure the highest level of public participation in national policy formulation.

The success of this programme requires taking all the necessary steps to ensure freedom of expression and the development of a free, independent and professional media to practice their role as a pillar of the national development process. Therefore, the necessary legislative amendments must be made and the relevant policies must be adopted to establish the proper environment to develop a professional media industry and ensure the media's right to access information and deal with it freely. Laws also must be amended and modernised to protect society from those practices that are unprofessional and immoral by some media outlets.

As for economic policy, regional and international conditions have negatively affected our own economic situation, and the government should exert maximum effort to develop the economy, ensure the best management of resources and work according to clear plans that protect our economy from the repercussions of the global economic crisis and enable it to achieve the highest levels of growth. Economic and fiscal policies must be formulated that would boost our national economy's competitiveness. The government's economic plan must also include measures to achieve a balance between financial capabilities and demands for public spending; to preserve fiscal and monetary stability; to strengthen our reliance on our own resources; to develop our own economic legislation; and to achieve the best possible balance in terms of development among the governorates so as to achieve better living standards for citizens and fight poverty and unemployment.

Work must also focus on protecting the poor and underprivileged and on strengthening institutional work to care for those in need. And because investment constitutes one of the most important factors of economic success and contributes to providing job opportunities, attracting new technology and developing the skill of the labour force, the investment environment must be developed and work must be intensified to attract foreign investment. In this regard, the government is asked to facilitate the work of Jordanian investors and support the Jordanian business community in all sectors by addressing bureaucratic obstacles, by developing mechanisms to fund projects and by developing the tender procedures in order to ensure the participation of all investors with transparency and justice. The necessary legislative and regulatory procedures must be adopted and applied to ensure the vitality and security of the banking sector and to guard it against the repercussions of the global financial crisis.

The government should continue to apply policies that seek to develop the partnership with the private sector so that the private sector can play a full role in our development process.

The government's economic policy should focus on achieving food and water security and on responding to the Kingdom's need for energy resources through long-term planning and pursuing mega projects that are capable of responding to our growing needs. In order to achieve the best possible results, and in light of the fact that these issues are interconnected, the government must draft the institutional frameworks that would ensure the highest level of coordination in the management of and investment in these sectors, especially alternative energy projects, gas and shale oil exploration, nuclear energy, the Disi Water Conveyance Project and the Red-Dead Water Conveyance Project.

The agricultural sector, one of the pillars of food security, needs more care and attention. We need more projects that support farmers, exempt agricultural equipment from taxes, provide farmers with easy loans and find markets for their products. Investment in these mega projects must also be accompanied by work to develop infrastructure, especially the telecommunications and road networks. Likewise, procedures regarding the establishment of the national railway must be finalised in order to allow Jordan to become a regional transport hub and to develop the opportunities for cooperation with neighbouring Arab states.

Since the human being is the focus of the whole of our development process and is the means and ends of development, our vision of the Jordan of the future is built on investing in the Jordanian citizen, who is creative and generous. For the citizen is the true wealth of our nation. The government must push ahead with the development of the educational process by implementing the educational development programme for the next five years, by developing higher education while preserving universities' independence and by expanding vocational education in a way that corresponds to market requirements. We emphasise here the need to draft practical programmes to tap the energy and potential of our youth and to arm them with the science and knowledge that are necessary in this era and help them contribute to their nation.

As for the health care sector, the health insurance umbrella must be expanded to include all citizens and to implement several major projects in the health sector, such as the e-health strategy and the development of Bashir Hospital as well as the new Zarqa and Northern Badia hospitals. The standard of health services available to citizens at public hospitals and health centres must also be improved, as must coordination among hospitals to ensure the best use of resources.

Based on our belief in the right of every individual to a safe and decent life, we hereby stress the importance of programmes to protect the family, women and children and provide protection and care for those who have been subjected to violence and to develop legislation that realises this noble objective.

We emphasise here that providing decent housing for citizens must be at the forefront of the government's priorities. We initiated the Decent Housing for Decent Living Initiative in 2008 to provide the greatest possible number of homes to citizens at reasonable prices and with financing mechanisms that would benefit Jordanians with limited income. Despite some successes in implementation, achievements have not met expectations. Therefore, a review of all aspects of this initiative must be undertaken, and a plan must be formulated to address the gaps and remove the obstacles to its successful conclusion, especially with regards to the financing mechanisms. The initiative should then be implemented within a specific timeframe.

Work must also continue in order to improve the quality of services to citizens and to draft a comprehensive plan to achieve a qualitative leap in the standard of public services to ensure they are readily available and effective. The comprehensive development that we seek to achieve requires that more attention be devoted to programmes to develop the public sector as well as to the restructuring and rehabilitation of the civil service, particularly by ridding it of laxity, by adopting the principle of equal opportunity and transparency in recruitment and promotion, by activating mechanisms of oversight and accountability and by combating all forms of corruption, nepotism and favouritism with the utmost firmness and sense of responsibility.

For, development is only achieved under the shadow of justice, equality and the rule of law for everyone. The only guarantee of this is the judiciary, whose independence, integrity, efficiency and good reputation we are keen to preserve through implementing the necessary plans and programmes to develop this institution, foremost of which is the programme “Future Judges”, and through facilitating litigation and improving the facilities and institutions affiliated with the judicial apparatus.

The rights and dignity of citizens is a red line. And the dignity of Jordanians is, for me, too sacred to allow it to come to any harm. Jordanians have been harmed by some manifestations of violence and aggression against citizens, among them teachers, employees and physicians. This is categorically opposed, and that is why laws must be activated and applied to everyone with the utmost justice and firmness; for Jordanians are equal before the law and equal in their rights and duties.

Our national achievements would not have materialised without the blessings of security and stability, and our armed forces and security institutions are the guarantee of our national sovereignty, security and stability, and they are a source of pride for Jordanians. It is one of our main duties to give them support, care and attention in terms of supplies, training, arms, so that they remain a model of efficiency and competence.

As for our Arab ties, Jordan has, since its establishment and until this day, been at the forefront of its Arab nation in terms of commitment to the nation and work to strengthen solidarity and integration within institutions of common Arab action. We will continue to do our duty to defend the rights of and just causes of the nation, foremost of which is the Palestinian cause.

We will continue to provide all forms of support to our Palestinian brothers in their struggle to gain their legitimate rights, especially their right to establish their independent state on their national soil, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We emphasise here that Jerusalem is, for us and all Arabs and Muslims, a red line that we do not permit anyone to cross.

We will continue to work and to employ our relations to achieve peace on the basis of the two-state solution, within a regional context that restores all Arab rights in accordance with the adopted references, especially the Arab Peace Initiative, so that the region may enjoy peace and security and be free of the woes of conflict, injustice and occupation. The government should continue all its efforts to stand by the Palestinians and provide them with whatever assistance and support they need.

Your Excellency, our confidence in you is tremendous. We have known you as a young, devoted Jordanian who is eager to work, and you have achieved much in all the assignments I have entrusted you with. We are confident that you will work with your ministerial team according to the best of your abilities, and you will receive all the support you need from us. And as we await the names of your choice of ministers to share responsibility with you, we ask God to grant us success in serving Jordan and achieving the aspirations of our proud and generous people.

Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you.

Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Amman, 9 December 2009