The Jordanian parliament has passed several amendments to the constitution granting more power to King Abdullah, including the right to appoint members of the senate and the head of a top court, Al Jazeera reported.
State news agency Petra said the amendments were passed with 123 out of 142 votes in favor. There are a total of 150 MPs in parliament.
The new changes allow the King to select key positions by royal decree without any nomination process from the government or signatures from the Council of Ministers.
Last year, parliament passed another amendment granting the King the right to hire and fire chiefs of the army and intelligence services in Jordan. Before 2015, he had only the power to appoint the prime minister.
Petra said the changes "aim to strengthen the principle of separation of powers, boost the independence of the Constitutional Court and the judiciary and enhance the neutrality of the gendarmerie in politics."
However, critics have said the amendments move Jordan closer to being an absolute monarchy, rather than a constitutional monarchy, rolling back the promise of reforms during the 2011 regional uprisings which King Abdullah said would eventually limit his powers as King.
The constitutional amendments come amidst a critical response to the general direction the country is moving in - a country beset by a heavy public debt, limited natural resources, and a large refugee population from the war in neighboring Syria.
Others in the country have gone further, bemoaning the fact that the constitutional amendments - passed quietly with little scrutiny - failed to garner the media outcry that occurred when a Lebanese rock band was banned from Jordan, sparking a debate about pluralism and freedom of expression in the kingdom.
"Under the new rules, those who will be appointed by the King, who enjoys constitutional protection and legal immunity, would be by extension above the law," Abdel Karim al-Dughmi, one of the MPs who voted against the move, told Al Jazeera.
© 2000 - 2021 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)