Jordan monarch calls for changes to electoral law

AFP, Sunday 28 Nov 2010

Jordan's monarch inaugurates new assembly and calls for amendments to electoral law challenged by Islamists

King Abdullah II defended Jordan's new parliament on Sunday but called for amendments to the electoral law challenged by Islamists, as he inaugurated the assembly after an election this month.

Dressed in formal military attire, the monarch told members of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate that "the Legislative Authority has a pivotal constitutional role."

"We do not accept any situation in which the role of the House of Representatives is undermined. And we do not accept any distortion of its image among the people," said the 48-year-old.

The king, who succeeded his father in 1999, appealed for "reform that increases public participation in the decision-making process," according to an official English-language transcript.

He said parliament could "amend" a temporary election law "as necessary to render this central legislation more conducive to advancing our democratic reforms, and adopt it as a permanent law."

Jordan's 9 November parliamentary election was conducted under the first system, which is strongly criticised as unfair by the opposition Islamic Action Front who boycotted the poll.

Pro-government loyalists kept control of the parliament after sweeping the vote, and a government with 11 new faces in the 31-member cabinet, including three women, took the oath of office on Wednesday.

King Abdullah II dissolved the parliament in November 2009, two years before the end of its mandate, after media allegations about ineffectiveness and corruption among MPs.

On Sunday, he vowed his government will "respect the right of media institutions to work freely and independently," but added reforms were needed "to protect citizens and their rights from unprofessional practices that falsify facts and harm our country."

He reiterated Jordan's support for Palestinians, "to help them put an end to occupation, to lift the injustice, and to establish their independent state on their national soil, with east Jerusalem as its capital."

"Jordan will also spare no effort in supporting our Iraqi brethren to preserve the stability and security of their country and to regain Iraq's pivotal role in the region and the world at large," he said.

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