The Jordanian parliament starts debate on constitutional amendments – archyde

  • Government urges parliament to speed up deliberations
  • The kick-off came after a royal feud rocked the kingdom
  • Officials say reforms are towards parliamentary government

AMMAN, Nov 22 (Reuters) – The Jordanian parliament began deliberations on Monday on proposed constitutional reforms that officials say will revive the monarchy and are part of an effort to implement long-promised political reforms.

A royal committee set up by King Abdullah drafted the proposals to try to modernize the country’s political system and revise the existing political party and electoral law.

In April, the former Crown Prince Hamza was accused of agitating Abdullah and exposing upheavals within a royal family that helped protect Jordan from the unrest that has gripped neighboring Syria and Iraq.

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Prime Minister So far al Khasawneh said the bill would pave the way for a prime minister born from a parliamentary majority rather than one handpicked by the monarch, a key pillar of the reformist agenda favored by a mix of Islamists and tribal figures.

“..It allows the country’s leader (king) to go to party-based governments,” he told the gathering.

The US-backed Abdullah, who can dissolve parliament and appoint governments and is the ultimate arbiter in the country of 10 million people, has said over the past few years that he hopes to become a constitutional monarch one day.

Proposals include the establishment of a monarch-led national security council under the jurisdiction of the government, a move that some experts and politicians see as a curtailment of the monarch’s powers.

Liberal politicians say the monarch, who has ruled since 1999, was forced to take tentative steps towards democracy in response to regional unrest.

“This is a coup against the Jordanian constitution and its institutions … How dare the government attack the constitution in this way,” said MP Saleh al Armouti in a heated session.

Some MPs also criticized the amendments to the Kingdom’s constitution, saying they would also marginalize parliament and undermine the executive powers of successive governments.

Other changes to text seen by Reuters expand representation of women and political parties in an expanded 138-person congregation. It lowers the age of elected MPs to 25 years.

Jordan has seen episodes of civil unrest and street protests in recent years, led by disaffected tribes and a mainly Islamist opposition that urged the king to fight corruption and demand greater political freedoms.

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Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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