King of Jordan calls for “modernization” of political system


King Abdullah of Jordan has called on the government to continue with political “modernization”, as the proposed constitutional changes leave the monarch with significant powers in the country.

Jordan is experiencing an economic slowdown, and authorities have stepped up the crackdown on dissent this year. Last month, a royal committee appointed by the monarch drew up proposals for political reform.

The Hashemite Royal Court said in a statement that King Abdullah met with Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh and cabinet members on Wednesday and urged them to implement the Royal Committee’s recommendations to modernize the political system.

The recommendations include a new electoral law that allows certain candidates to run for parliament in all constituencies, if they belong to political parties.

The 130-member legislature has mainly ceremonial powers. It is dominated by tribes who benefit from the current electoral system.

King Abdullah, who has reigned since 1999, appoints and dismisses governments, commands the army and controls foreign policy.

Government spokesman Faisal Al Shboul told state television on Wednesday that the government had submitted an electoral bill to parliament, in line with the committee’s recommendations.

The law, he said, would bring Jordan into “a new legislative and executive era.”

Following other recommendations from the committee, a draft of proposed constitutional changes expected to be submitted to parliament commits the state to protect women “against all forms of violence and discrimination”.

The draft was published Wednesday by Ammon News.

The changes would also prevent parliamentarians from holding ministerial positions or having contracts with the state, and lower the minimum age for standing for parliament from 30 to 25.

But the proposed amendments make it more difficult for parliament to call a vote of confidence in the government, requiring a vote motion to be approved by 25 percent of members, instead of the current 7 percent.

A new National Security Council is planned, which would be headed by the king, according to the new proposals.

Updated: November 18, 2021, 13:47

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