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Jordanian Elections ...Violations, Near End for Mideast Democratization
Jordanian Elections ...Violations, Near End for Mideast Democratization
Jordanians cast their votes Tuesday to elect their new House of Representatives – the 15th in the Jordanian history
Tuesday, November 20,2007 14:23
by Abdul Rahman Mansour IkhwanWeb
ordanians cast their votes Tuesday to elect their new House of Representatives – the 15th in the Jordanian history- while many Jordanian media figures, human rights activists and leaders affiliated to the Islamic Action Front Party (IAF) complained of illegal actions overshadowing the election process as monitors of civil society organizations were prevented from supervising the ballot stations.
The election process started smoothly, according to some voters, although the turnout was weak in the first hours in the capital Amman, but other Jordanian governorates, specially those with a tribal competition witnessed a high turnout since the first hours of the morning according to media observers.
The Jordanians choose 110 MPs out of 885 candidates in 12 Jordanian governorates, including 199 women who compete on the six female quota allocated for women in parliament.
Jordanian authorities deployed 40 thousand policemen all over the country in addition to sending three military brigades to south of the kingdom to be ready for any possible tribal clashes.
The Jordanian government allocated 1374 ballot stations in the kingdom"s 12 governorates. About 40 thousand employees work in the ongoing election process.
The candidates spent 100 million Jordanian dinars ($144mln) in the election campaigns, and they hang 500 thousand signs in all cities.
The Islamic Action Front Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood group in Jordan, informed the Ministry of Interior of the reports it has reached around the election process. The IAF Secretary-General Zaki Bin Arshid sent a memo to the Minister of Interior, Eid Al Fayez, in which he confirmed that the electronic network has been facing repeated glitches in most constituencies since the morning, causing a severe confusion among voters and making some of them return home without casting their votes".
Bin Arshid pointed out out in the memo that the election committees use of the electronic network isn"t that efficient or speedy. The electronic network, searching for voters names through cellular phones by sending emails, has been taking so much time without even being sure of the information sent from this network. Add to this the fact that repeated voting may take place the double standards in controlling the voting of the voters. Cards of some voters have been pierced to prove that they have cast their votes while this didn"t take place in other constituencies.
The IAF Secretary-General said also that: Every one with an election ID card was allowed to vote even if he isn"t in the constituency mentioned in his card. "This actually opens the door wide for the voting of unillegible voters like soldiers, policemen and others in constituencies from which the election cards have been issued". He pointed out that this measure is " illegal and it is against the need for registering in the elections and the voter rolls.
The memo pointed out also that some members of the election committees violated the freedom of the voters and asked them for whom will they cast their votes in the elections. Many voters didn"t find their names in the voter rolls, including even some candidates like Bassam Haddad.
The main complaint issued by many candidates and voters in several governorates including Amman, Al-Zarqa and Irbid was that the electronic network was breaking down, leading to stopping the voting processes.
Although the Ministry of Interior declared that it has an alternative for the electronic network, of providing about four thousand cellular phones containing chips, the candidates and citizens said that this has never been used yet.
Candidates said also that citizens managed to vote several times in the 2003 parliamentary elections.
Gamil Abu Bakr, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan said in a press conference today at noon that the Islamic movement spotted key violations which may reach the level of a general phenomenon and may have an impact over the results of the parliamentary elections that take place today.
He added that these violation "target the election process"  and target the IAF candidates. He spoke about violations that included:" Inserting ballot papers from outside the polling stations in some districts, that some citizens cast their votes using a civil ID card that don"t show the name of the constituency in several constituencies, vote-buying, military trucks carry soldiers in several constituencies to other constituencies to cast their votes in a flagrant contravention to law, allowing underage voters in several regions.
The civil society organizations criticized what they called as government backtracking from allowing observers to enter polling stations. This made the National Center for Human Rights lash out at this decision of the Interior Ministry.
Abd Al-Karim Al-Sharida, spokesman of Arab Organization for Human Rights said that the government has broken its to the National Center for Human Rights and it prevented its observers from entering polling stations or the vote-count centers.
He considered the government measure as a proof that it isn"t serious in its plans for holding a transparent or fair election process.
Zaki Bin Arshid told Ikhwanweb on Tuesday afternoon that the election process has been marred by violations in an atmospheres that presages the government"s reluctance towards reforming the current political situation.
Bin Arshid adds that what is happening today happened during the Municipal elections. What we actually fear is the last-minute rigging during the vote-count process, said the IAF leader.
"Although the government and the Interior Ministry claimed that no violation is committed during the election process, but the IAF spotted government-sponsored violations like vote-buying and repeated voting", said Bin Arshid.
Bin Arshid added that" what is happening in the Jordanian elections make us suspect that there will be any democratic reform or political change that may lead to a real democracy.
These violations will actually have an impact on the social condition in nowadays Jordan, because the negative indications towards reform will consequently frustrate the Jordanian citizens, making the society seek other peaceful method for a real change other than the elections.
The IAF Secretary-General added:" The current government pressures over the choice of the Jordanian society are actually a US scheme. Unfortunately, the Jordanian government succumbs to this scheme. However, and despite these domestic and foreign pressures, the Islamic movements will continue pushing for establishing really democratic and peaceful rules in the region.
The criticisms against the vote buyings surfaced in articles in newspapers and websites. This was boosted by footages showing citizens selling their votes to brokers for a candidate in a constituency in the capital Amman.
The tribal affiliations strongly overshadow these elections in Jordan as most candidates belong to the biggest clans in Jordan in addition to independent candidates, businessmen and number of nationalists and leftists.
Salem Falahat, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, demanded PM Maarouf Al Bakhit to stop such violations that deem the elections a failure.
Falahat said in a memo that he sent to the Prime Minister today: These actions were expected. Despite your repeated pledges of holding fair and transparent elections, but actions on the ground prove the contrary. That many violations have been committed, many citizens have cast their votes with election cards not containing the name of their constituencies. The notorious vote-buying processes haven"t been curbed and have even mushroomed in public with no deterrent measures against those committing such crimes, with the government airing only threats that have no impact on the actual reality. There also repeated votings and ballot papers have been taken outside ballot centres and outside boxes and were circulated among supporters of some candidates.
"We hoped that the civil society institutions carry out their role of monitoring the election process, not to refuse this role after it was severely sidelined.
He pointed out that the party has sent a detailed memo to the Interior Minister to whom many phone calls went returned. We wished that phone calls didn"t go unreturned with state officials specially in this important day.
We speak to you through letters and through in the media because our phone calls to you went unreturned. We demand you to stop all violations that affect the integrity and fairness of the elections. You have the responsibility according to the constitution to stop such violations.
Zaki Bin Arshid sent a second memo to Jordanian Minister of the Interior, Eid Al Fayez, in which he told him of more violations including the public voting, taking ballot papers out of ballot boxes and the repeated voting.
Bin Arshid complained also of the publicly shown operations of buying votes in front of polling stations.
He said also that new ID cards have been distributed on women by some candidates to allow them to vote for them. Also, ballot papers with the name of the candidate have been distributed on voters. He said also that those having no election card were allowed to cast their votes.
He concluded his memo saying the party has more details that include names and figures to confirm everything it says.
It is worth mentioning that a weekly newspaper close to Jordanian decision-making bodies published days ago names of the new MPs of the fifteenth parliament of Jordan. Zaki Bin Arshid told Ikhwanweb today afternoon that this proves that the coming House is actually appointed by the Jordanian government, not elected by citizens.
Bin Arshid sent through Ikhwanweb an open message king Abdullah Bin Hussein of Jordan in which he said: The king"s clear order to the Jordanian government of increasing measures to secure holding democratic and fair elections hasn"t taken effect. This means that the government shouldn"t only resigns or be sacked, but it should be held accountable by all the Jordanian people for these violations.
Ballot boxes closed at 7.00PM and the vote-count process started immediately and the results will be declared later.
The Islamic movements in the Middle East has been delath several and successive blows from governments specially when it comes to their participation in the political process in their countries. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Morocco and Egypt have faced repeated government violations in widely rigged elections. MB leaders in these movements say that besieging their movement has a passive effect on political and social activities and evenmake the societies lag in their march towards democracy because of lacking any regional or international role.

Posted in Election Coverage , MB Around The World  
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