A two way street? Jordanian government seeks public’s feedback on 'reform drive'
The government on Monday announced it has drafted two major laws on local government, which are key components of the country’s “reform” drive.
Both bills seek to render the decision-making process totally based on voters’ will, the premier told reporters at a press conference that was also attended by concerned ministers, adding that if endorsed by Parliament, the new municipalities law will be the basis of the upcoming local elections.
The decentralisation draft law stipulates two councils in each of the Kingdom’s governorates, except Amman, according to the premier and ministers of interior, Hussein Majali, and municipal affairs, Walid Masri, who took turn to explain the details of the two laws, which, they noted, have received the initial endorsement of the Cabinet.
The suggested bills will be posted on the website of the Opinion and Legislation Bureau, the legislative arm of the Prime Ministry.
Each governorate will have two councils, one of which will be directly elected by public vote, while the other will serve as an executive council. He explained that the elected body will do the job of a local Parliament, while the other, which will be appointed by the central government, will serve as a local Cabinet.
A major objective of the law, according to Majali, is to ensure the local administrations in the governorates have more powers to develop and manage services.
He went on to add that the executive council will be headed by the deputy governor.
He added that the law stipulates specific provisions for the Greater Amman Municipality, where one-third of its council members will be appointed and the rest elected, while the mayor will be internally selected by the body.
The question of whether the number of seats in Parliament will be reduced has to be answered by people, Ensour said, noting that the outcome of the public debate over the two bills will be taken into account when such a change is considered.
Meanwhile, the premier said these laws, if endorsed, will be the third and fourth in a series of laws suggested or enacted as part of the country’s reform process, including the political parties bill, which has already been referred to the legislature, and the Press and Publications Law, which has been finally endorsed. The fifth, the parliamentary elections bill, will be based on the outcome of the ongoing process and public debate, the premier said.
The premier also noted that the authorities of the Independent Elections Commission are restricted to the supervision of the parliamentary elections as per the Constitution, but “we want it to oversee all elections”. Thus, he said, “we should think of modifying the concerned article of the Constitution”.