No rush for new Jordan parliament

No rush for new Jordan parliament

 AMMAN – Jordan plans to postpone its parliamentary election, amend the electoral law and organise its first poll for regional councils as part of a decentralisation process, an official said on Sunday.

"The government will ask the king to use his powers to postpone the election, which will be preceded by a regional council election for the purpose of a decentralisation of power," an official said.

"Jordan wants such councils elected. The regional election will show voting trends ahead of the general election," he said, declining to be named.

The regional councils in Jordan’s 12 governorates have previously been appointed by the government.

King Abdullah II dissolved parliament on November 23 and ordered a general election two years early, after months of press criticism of the ineffectiveness and in some cases alleged corruption of MPs.

The constitution allows the government four months to hold a parliamentary election after its dissolution, but the king has the power to delay the poll, which are held every four years.

A ministerial commission has been formed to amend the electoral law and proposed amendments are currently under discussion following orders by the king for a reform.

The 1993 controversial one-person-one-vote electoral law has been under constant attack by opposition parties, trade unions, politicians and the Jordanian media.

They say the law has produced lawmakers with tribal affiliations, instead of MPs who truly represent the people.

"The one-person-one-vote system was introduced in order to limit our representation in the lower house," said Azzam Hneidi of the Islamic Action Front (IAF).

Only six of the 22 candidates fielded by the IAF were victorious in the last general election on November 20, 2007, a tally sharply down on the 17 seats it won in 2003.

After the 2007 vote, the IAF, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, charged there had been widespread vote-buying in some constituencies despite pledges of transparency from the government.

Meanwhile, King Abdullah is expected to call for the formation of a new government to replace the cabinet headed by Nader Dahabi since November 2007, according to political sources.

The current Royal Court chief, Nasser Lawzi, is expected to head the new administration, they said.