Jordan Islamists want to limit power of king

AFP , Wednesday 19 Jan 2011

Main Islamist party in Jordan calls on constitutional amendments to limit the King's power to name heads of government

Jordan's Islamist opposition on Wednesday urged constitutional amendments to curb the king's power in naming heads of government, arguing the premiership should go to the leader of the majority in parliament.

"We want constitutional amendments that would limit the king's power in appointing whoever he wants to head a government without any constitutional restriction," said Zaki Bani Rsheid, the head of the powerful Islamic Action Front (IAF).

"The leader of the majority in parliament should become prime minister, or get elected directly by the people," he told AFP.

Under the constitution, the king names and dismisses prime ministers.

Bani Rsheid said the IAF, the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, had "prepared a thorough study of the required amendments in the constitution," which was adopted in 1952.

The IAF on Tuesday demanded the dissolution of parliament and removal of Prime Minister Samir Rifai's government on allegations of "fraud" in Jordan's November election.

"The elections were marred by fraud. We have evidence of the use of tens of thousands of fake identity cards during the electoral process," said IAF secretary general Hamzeh Mansur.

Bani Rsheid said the IAF wanted a "transitional government which should hold new, free and transparent elections on the basis of a law that is just and democratic."

The IAF boycotted the November vote in protest of the electoral law's under-representation of urban areas where Islamists are strong.

Bani Rsheid said the Islamists planned to organise a nationwide demonstration alongside leftist parties and trade unions to call for "political reforms as well as limiting hikes in commodity prices."

Poverty levels are running at 25 per cent in the desert kingdom, whose capital Amman is the most expensive city in the Arab world, according to several independent studies.

Unemployment is running at about 14 per cent in the country of six million people, 70 per cent of them under the age of 30. But other estimates put the jobless figure at 30 per cent, and the monthly minimum wage at $211.

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets over the weekend to protest soaring prices and unemployment, despite a $169 million plan to improve their living conditions.

Arab League chief Amr Mussa warned at the Arab summit in Egypt this week that their region should learn the lesson from the economic grievances which triggered the Tunisian uprising.

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