Jordan's King Abdullah II endorsed a Cabinet reshuffle on Saturday in the wake of scandals and resignations that have tainted the country's prime minister and ignited calls for his resignation.
The move follows six months of street protests in Jordan _ inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world _ that have pressed for a wider public say in politics, the lowering of food prices and reduction of inflation rates.
The most significant official to go as part of the reshuffle was Interior Minister Saad Hayel Srour. He was replaced by Mazen Saket, seen as a moderate politician who may be more palatable to the public.
Srour was accused by the protesters of ordering the police to use excessive force to quell the demonstrations. He was also widely criticized for allowing businessman Khaled Shaheen _ who was serving a three-year prison term for bribery and corruption _ to leave Jordan.
Abdullah Abu Ruman, a newspaper columnist in charge of a government office that censors the media, was named information minister _ a move signaling that the government will continue to control the press.
The reshuffle followed earlier resignations of three Cabinet members, two of whom stepped down in the wake of a public outcry over the tycoon Shaheen's departure from the country. The third quit over differences with the prime minister over draft laws he said restrict media freedoms.
Separately, Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit has been tied to another scandal, during his previous 2005-2007 tenure, when his Cabinet approved the country's first casino in violation of Islamic law that bans gambling.
But a parliamentary committee investigating the affair has acquitted al-Bakhit while implicating a former tourism minister who served in his government.
It was not immediately clear if the reshuffle will placate protesters who have been demanding that al-Bakhit, who took office Feb. 9, step down.
A royal palace statement said Saturday's reshuffle brought in nine new ministers and raised by two portfolios the overall number in al-Bakhit's Cabinet to 29 members.
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