Jordan moves to 'modernize' political system: official


360 View

+ -

SULAIMANI — Jordan is planning to "modernize" its political system, an official said on Tuesday (June 29), months after an unprecedented crisis in the royal palace and against a backdrop of social discontent.

The initiative aims to offer Jordanians "a political life that suits them", said Samir al-Rifai, a former prime minister appointed this month by King Abdullah II to oversee the changes.

Jordan was rocked by an alleged plot to "destabilize" the kingdom in April that implicated Prince Hamzah, King Abdullah's half-brother and a former crown prince.

The kingdom has witnessed bouts of unrest in recent months, including scattered protests against a curfew and economic hardship triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the initiative announced on Tuesday, Rifai will head a committee reflecting the sensitivities of the country.

It is made up of 91 members representing Islamists, secularists, nationalists, communists and independents from politics, academia and civil society.

The body would present "recommendations to the government before October" which would then submit them to both the lower and upper houses of parliament, Rifai told a news conference in Amman.

"Our goal is to have more Jordanians represented (in parliament), to motivate them to take part in elections and to make them feel their voice has an impact," he said.

In order to achieve this, he said, the committee would propose "a new draft electoral law" and another on "political parties for a transition to a modern Jordan".

"We are moving towards real party political life," he said, insisting the initiative was not subject to "any influence or interference" from the government.

Amman passed an electoral law in August 2016 that was supposed to allow for greater plurality, but only a third of Jordan's nearly 4.5 million voters cast ballots in the last parliamentary election in November 2020.

And while there are about 50 political parties in the country, their total membership is estimated to be less than 10,000.

(NRT Digital Media/AFP)