Amid Syria turmoil, Jordanians vote in municipal elections
Jordanian Prime Minster Abdullah Ensour casts his vote in Amman on Tuesday. (Image via Jordan News Agency, Petra)
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As of early morning Tuesday, more than 2.3 million Jordanians are expected to head to polling centres to cast their votes for candidates in the municipal elections.
The elections will see thousands of candidates running for the position of mayor and spots on municipal councils of 100 municipalities, in addition to the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM).
Jordanian Minister of Municipal Affairs Walid Masri said on Tuesday that the voting process in the country’s municipal elections is going smoothly, describing turnout so far as “good”.
At a press conference, Masri noted that there were some technical problems in a few polling centres, indicating that more than 4,200 local and international observers are monitoring the process across the Kingdom, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.
After casting his ballot in Salt, his home city, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said that Jordanians are seeking democratic change through polls and not through bullets, strikes or rioting.
Ensour urged people to head to polling stations to boost the democratic process.
According to voters’ lists issued by the Civil Status and Passports Department (CSPD), 3.7 million citizens are eligible to take part in the elections, including 1.25 million members of the armed forces and the security agencies and public servants who will be involved in conducting the elections.
Speaking earlier this month, Interior Minister Hussein Majali emphasised that although it is not forbidden by law, members of the security agencies and armed forces are unable to take part in the elections.
“The elections only run for the span of one day and, in accordance with the law, cannot be extended. As a result, the armed forces and security agencies will be at work and it would not be fair to allow some of them to vote while the others remain on duty,” Majali noted.
According to CSPD figures, nearly 1.179 million of the overall voters are females, and over 1.345 million of those voters reside in areas under the jurisdiction of the GAM.
The elections will be conducted without the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood after the opposition group announced its boycott of the municipal elections in early July, but the coalition of leftist and pan-Arab parties said it would participate in Tuesday’s vote.
The government previously stated that the vote counting process will take place in election centres and the results will be announced by the head of local electoral committees on election day.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs said that 2,803 candidates are running for the elections, with 590 competing for mayorship, including five women, and 2,213 for the position of municipal council member, 474 of whom are women, adding that it has assigned a total of 101 individuals to head electoral committees and will have more than 40,000 employees directly or indirectly involved in the election process.
The ministry’s lists also showed that six women are running for mayor posts and 482 for council members. The country is divided into 384 electoral districts which will host 1,196 polling stations containing 7,950 ballot boxes split equally for the election of mayors and municipal council members.
A total of 58 candidates won by acclamation across the Kingdom’s governorates, according to elections spokesperson Ahed Ziadat.
The government said that it has taken all measures to ensure that the elections will be held smoothly and freely without any interruptions or interference, pledging that the voter turnout will reflect the voters’ independent choice of their representatives in their local municipal councils.
“The elections are a key pillar in the structure of democracies and voting is a civilised practice and an act of patriotism. The central government will do everything within its capacity to ensure the success of the electoral process and to ensure they are conducted to the highest standards of integrity,” Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said recently, adding that the government and state agencies have no interest in supporting one party at the expense of the other.
Ensour on Monday toured the central operations room to check on preparations for the polls, the first since 2007.
Some 50,000 policemen will be deployed all over the Kingdom’s governorates during Tuesday’s municipal elections, police sources told The Jordan Times. They will be acting in cooperation with other security agencies and have taken a set of procedures to ensure that the polls go smoothly and citizens’ lives and properties are safeguarded.
According to the ministry, some 4,000 observers from 14 local and international organisations are expected to monitor the elections.
The Kingdom’s telecommunications companies — Zain, Orange and Umniah — have started offering an electronic service to the public where they can inquire about the addresses of their polling stations via SMS.
By Hani Hazaimeh