Jordan's King Abdullah has relieved his half-brother, Prince Hamzah, of his title as crown prince.
Speaking in a televised address on Sunday, Abdullah said the move would allow his sibling to play a more meaningful part in the country's political life. "I chose you five years ago to be crown prince, rather than my other brothers who are older than you," he 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."
It is not the first time the issue of succession has provoked surprise in Jordan. Just days before his death in 1999, the previous monarch, King Hussein, unexpectedly withdrew the title of crown prince from his brother Hassan, granting it instead to Abdullah. Soon after acceding to the throne, the new ruler elevated Hamzah to the position of crown prince.
It is well known that King Hussein had a special affection for Hamzah, whom he described as "the delight of my eye". The 24-year-old, who is currently studying politics at an American university, has earned a reputation for his progressive views. In the past he has delivered speeches calling for reform in Muslim thinking, but the role of crown prince involves no political duties.