King Hussein's favoured son loses claim to Jordan's throne

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The Independent Online

The King of Jordan announced an abrupt change to his succession plans yesterday, stripping his half-brother, Hamza bin Hussein, of the title crown prince.

King Abdullah II broke the news in an unscheduled televised message to Hamza, sayingthat the move would "allow you to have more freedom of movement".

The decision means that 24-year-old Hamza, a college student in the US, is no longer heir to the throne. Instead, according to the country's constitution, the heir will be the king's eldest son, 10-year-old Hussein.

It was only 12 days before he died of cancer in February 1999 that the previous monarch, King Hussein, unexpectedly named Abdullah, the son of his second wife, as his successor.

Hours after his father died, King Abdullah elevated Hamza, the son of the late king's fourth wife, to the role of crown prince. The late King Hussein, who had 11 children with four wives, had long made public his affection for Hamza, whom he described as the "delight of my eye".

It appears that the saga of the kingdom's succession plans will continue.

Describing his half-brother as a "sincere soldier of this nation" during his televised message, King Abdullah said: "Your presence in this symbolic post restricts your freedom and restricts our ability to assign you some responsibilities, as its symbolic nature bars you from shouldering some responsibilities you are capable of conducting in the best possible way."

He added: "As for the position of crown prince, I will continue, guided by the constitution and the good of our beloved Jordan and our noble Hashemite message, to give it my sincere attention."

Hamza, who bears a striking resemblance to his late father, has been an undergraduate student in political science at an American university for the past three years.

Last year, he married Princess Noor, 22, who attends the same university, which cannot be named for security reasons. While he has delivered speeches in the past urging reform in Muslim thinking and criticising Islamic extremism, his position as crown prince involved no political duties.

Instead, as part of his duties, Hamza represented the king at events both at home and abroad. Hamza also oversaw a number of prestigious national institutions, including a prominent think-tank.

A senior aide to the King insisted yesterday that there were no political ramifications in the move."It should not be read in any way other than in the constitutional, brotherly and positive sense," said the official.