Jordan's King Tells Gov't to Draft New Elections Law Within Month
Jordan's King Abdullah demanded Sunday that his government draft a new elections law within a month, clearing the way for new legislative elections, after dissolving Parliament the previous day, said AFP.
Abdullah said in a letter to Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb that he had dissolved parliament's elected 80-seat lower chamber because it "could not adopt a new election law."
The Jordanian Constitution allows the cabinet to pass legislation, in the absence of Parliament, with the king's approval.
In his letter, the monarch outlined his guidelines to his prime minister, calling for the elections law to "reinforce the democratic process" and "re-examine the carving up of electoral districts."
He stressed that the law should be completed "with a maximum delay of one month in order to hold elections as soon as possible."
Abdullah expressed confidence that elections would "unfold in a neutral and honest manner."
Last year, Abdullah had demanded that the parliament and his cabinet, which he also reshuffled Saturday with 11 new appointments, pass a "modern electoral law."
The constitution calls for Parliament's lower chamber, the House of Representatives, to be reconvened within four months of its dissolution.
The upper body, the 40-seat Senate, is appointed by the king.
Opposition groups, Islamists in particular, see the current election rules as being aimed at reducing their presence in Parliament, and are calling for proportional representation.
The government, for its part, argues that the first-past-the-post system is the fairest and plans to keep it as part of a new election law, taking into account a fairer distribution of Parliament seats.
Under the current system, some constituencies outside Amman where the number of voters is below 50,000 are still allocated three seats, while others in Amman get the same number of seats for more than 400,000 voters.
King Abdullah's decision to dissolve the chamber in line with Article 34 of the Constitution silenced earlier speculation that the term of the Lower House was to be extended beyond its regular four years, the Jordan Times said on Sunday.
“Elections are going to be soon,” a top official told the paper after the royal decree was issued. “Not very soon, but soon,” he added.
Jordan's fourth elections since martial law was lifted in 1989 might be held in spring, a parliamentary source close to Abul Ragheb said, and not in November, as was previously expected.
In a letter to Lower House Speaker Abdul Hadi Majali, the king expressed appreciation for the work of the chamber, and praised it for endorsing legislation related to social and economic development, according to the paper.
In a similar letter to Senate President Zeid Rifai, the monarch said “he took pride in Parliament's achievements over the past years," and expressed hope that new legislation would contribute towards progress and prosperity – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)