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World - Middle East

King Hussein ponders change in succession to Jordan's throne

King Hussein
King Hussein  

January 22, 1999
Web posted at: 5:58 p.m. EST (2258 GMT)

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Amid a flurry of speculation that Jordan's King Hussein is poised to make a change in the line of royal succession, the king met with his brother, Crown Prince Hassan, on Friday to discuss the issue, a source close to the court told CNN.

The palace would not confirm reports that the king would remove Hassan as his designated successor and replace him with one of Hussein's sons.

Other sources said King Hussein will probably address the Jordanian people on his ideas on succession within the next two days.

Hussein, 63, who has been Jordan's ruler since 1953, returned home this week after more than six months of cancer treatment in the United States. During his long absence, Hassan acted as regent.

In a CNN interview earlier this week, the king tried to discourage speculation about a change in the line of succession. But he also gave no ringing endorsement of Hassan's tenure as regent, and, at one point, he injected a note of implicit criticism of his brother, which left many Jordanians confused as to his intentions.

Jordan's constitution stipulates that upon the monarch's death, the crown is to pass either to the king's brother or to his eldest son. Hassan, 51, was named crown prince to succeed the king in 1965.

Should Hussein opt to take his brother out of the line of succession, it is still unclear which of his sons the king would elevate to the position of crown prince. But speculation is that his eldest son, Prince Abdullah Bin Al Hussein, is the likely candidate.

Abdullah, 36, is Hussein's son from his second marriage, to Tony Gardiner, a Briton who adopted the name of Mona when she converted to Islam upon her marriage to Hussein in 1960.

He is seen as a compromise candidate between Hassan's family and the children of the king's fourth and current wife, the American-born Queen Noor, the former Elizabeth Halaby.

Abdullah has a military education and is popular with Jordan's armed forces, as well as with the kingdom's Bedouin tribes. Analysts say no one can question his legitimacy as crown prince should King Hussein announce a realignment in the line of succession.

Well-informed royal sources told the Associated Press that Abdullah is likely to pick his brother, Hamza, as his eventual successor.

Hamza, 18, is Hussein's son by Queen Noor. He is attending courses at Britain's Sandhurst Military Academy.

Correspondent Walter Rodgers contributed to this report.

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