40 years of Hussein

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The Independent Online
AMMAN, (AFP) - King Hussein, the longest-serving Arab head of state, marks 40 years in power on Sunday with military parades and public rallies of support.

The 57-year-old monarch was proclaimed king on August 11, 1952, when he was only 17 but he did not exercise his constitutional powers until May 2, 1953.

King Hussein will attend a parade by the armed forces, police and students on Sunday as celebrations are held across Jordan.

The festivities, set to last several days, will be held under the banner: "With King Hussein on the path to democracy, liberty and development."

The streets of Amman have been decked with portraits of the king and Sunday was declared a public holiday.

The king, who is widely held as moderate and pro-Western, has survived assassination attempts, coups, riots and wars and his country is still grappling with the economic fallout from the 1991 Gulf war.