King Abdullah II Of Jordan Sacks Government Amid Street Protests

The king became the first Arab leader to announce political concessions from a position of relative security as he sought to pre-empt opposition-led demonstrations inspired by Egypt's attempted revolution against President Hosni Mubarak.

He followed up the dismissal of Samir Rifai, his popular prime minister, and the entire cabinet, with a pledge to embark on an immediate programme of democratic reform.

But the king's choice of Marouf Bakhit, widely seen as a conservative resistant to reform, as Mr Rifai's successor immediately drew more criticism than praise.

A former general, Mr Bakhit was accused of failing to deliver on a promised liberalisation agenda during his previous term as prime minister in 2005-2007.

""This is not a step in the right direction and does not show any intent towards real political reforms,"" said Sheikh Hamza Mansour, leader of the Islamic Action Front, Jordan's largest opposition group.