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Jordan king unveils constitutional reform proposals

Jordan's King Abdullah II recommends the creation of a constitutional court to push for social and political reform amid growing protests in Jordan

AFP , Monday 15 Aug 2011
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King Abdullah has backed proposals for constitutional reforms to devolve some of his powers to parliament and enhance civil liberties, palace officials said on Sunday (Reuters)
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King Abdullah II on Sunday said a panel he named earlier this year has recommended the creation of a constitutional court as a key step to achieve social and political reforms in Jordan.

Proposals made by the Royal Committee on Constitutional Review are "solid proof of Jordan's ability to revitalise itself and its legislation and approach the future with a vision of social and political reform," the king said.

He tasked the committee in April with drawing up recommendations to push for social and political reform amid streets protests calling for change in the country, after Arab uprisings unseated veteran leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and shook other countries in the region.

"One of the major proposals is the establishment of a constitutional court to rule on the constitutionality of legislation and consolidate the judiciary's role as the authority that safeguards the constitutionality of legislation," the king told statesmen and journalists at an iftar meal to break the Ramadan fast, a palace statement said.

He said the panel suggested lowering the age of candidates for parliament from 35 to 25 in a bid to appeal to Jordan's youths who represent 70 percent of the country's population of more than six million.

"To reinforce the role of youth in public and parliamentary life, the minimum age of candidacy for the Lower House has been lowered to 25 years...," the king said.

Inspired by their peers in Egypt and Tunisia, Jordanian youths have joined the Islamist opposition and other groups in the kingdom in demanding economic and political reforms including a new electoral law and an elected prime minister.

"Amending the constitution will proceed in accordance with the appropriate constitutional processes and within a timeframe we hope would not exceed one month...," the king said.

"We assert that the roadmap of political reform will be achieved within a timeframe that observes institutional processes and the existing constitutional channels, and no later than the fourth quarter of this year."

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