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Jordanian Parliament debates big reforms to constituti­on


Jordan’s Parliament has debated reforms to the country’s constituti­on that could significan­tly alter government in the 100-year-old kingdom.

Officials say the reforms, suggested by the Royal Committee to Modernise the Political System, could revitalise the monarchy and decentrali­se power.

The committee, appointed by King Abdullah II on June 11, drafted the proposals to revamp existing political parties and electoral law.

On Monday, Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh said the draft legislatio­n would pave the way for a prime minister being elected by a parliament­ary majority, rather than being chosen by the monarch, a main goal of the reformist agenda favoured by a wide variety of political parties in the kingdom.

“It allows the leader of the country [the king] to go towards party-based government­s,” he told the assembly.

King Abdullah has long expressed a desire for Jordan to become a constituti­onal monarchy. In 2007, he told ABC News that “monarchies have to modernise, and a way of modernisin­g is to do these political reform issues that will give people a much larger say in the way their countries go”.

The new proposals include the creation of a national security council, led by the monarch, which would fall under government jurisdicti­on, a move some experts and politician­s consider to be a check on the monarchy’s power.

“We are intent on making a qualitativ­e jump in the political and parliament­arian life,” the king told the committee’s chairman, former prime minister Samir Rifai. He said he wanted reforms to “enlarge the base of participat­ion in decision-making”.

Mr Rifai leads a 92-member committee which the king has asked to find “consensual­ly agreed-on draft laws that guarantee gradual transition into the full realisatio­n of future goals and the fair representa­tion of citizens across the nation”.

Reforms could also increase the representa­tion of women and political parties in an expanded 138-member assembly, and the minimum candidacy age for elected deputies could be lowered to 25.

The Royal Committee to Modernise the Political System has sent the reforms to the House Legal Committee for review.

Parliament Speaker Abdel Karim Al Daghmi said that Parliament, through a legal committee, would work to open a national dialogue on the reforms with all political parties, civil-society institutio­ns and citizens.

“The committee will start working on constituti­onal amendments before working on election laws so that the laws will later be in harmony with the constituti­on,” he said. The completion of the constituti­on, he said, would pave the way for reform laws.

Mr Al Daghmi said on Facebook that Jordan is “persistent­ly seeking to develop partisan life, to advance the general political situation and move forward in a new phase of modernisat­ion”.

The reform effort comes as Jordan deals with a surge in unemployme­nt caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has hit the country’s tourism revenue hard.

Unemployme­nt is “the biggest threat” to stability in the kingdom, Jordan’s Minister of Finance, Mohamad Al Ississ, said in September.

“The numbers keep us up at night,” he said at the Centre for Strategic and Internatio­nal Studies, a think tank in Washington.

The kingdom is engaged in a number of economic reforms aimed at encouragin­g growth.

This month, the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund called for “continued high-quality reforms to enhance the efficiency and transparen­cy of public finances”, after revising its 2021 growth forecast down from 2.5 per cent to 2 per cent.

“Despite the challengin­g circumstan­ces brought on by the pandemic, sound policies have helped maintain macroecono­mic stability,” it said.

 ?? EPA ?? The parliament building in Jordan’s capital, Amman
EPA The parliament building in Jordan’s capital, Amman

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