Jordan approves constitutional amendments

Both chambers of Jordan's parliament passed the amendments before they were sent to the king for approval. [Atef Awdat/Al-Shorfa]

Both chambers of Jordan's parliament passed the amendments before they were sent to the king for approval. [Atef Awdat/Al-Shorfa]

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Jordan's King Abdullah II announced Friday (September 30th) that he approved new constitutional amendments to provide more balance among government branches and improve the electoral process.

Both chambers of parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate, passed the amendments after extensive deliberation and discussion.

"Political reform will follow the course we set for it, and we shall stay the course, step by step, in a manner that is responsive to the requirements of progress and aspirations of the community," King Abdullah II said in a statement.

On September 24th, Jordan's House of Representatives approved the draft constitutional amendments proposed by the Royal Commission on Constitutional Review with 98 representatives voting in favor, one voting against, 21 absent, and none abstaining.

Faisal al-Fayez, speaker of the House, hailed the vote as a "historic achievement that provides strong leverage for comprehensive reform".

"Over eight days, during which 16 morning and evening sessions were held, the House of Representatives lived up to its responsibility and produced amendments that promote freedom, democracy and the principles of justice and equality for all," he said.

The Senate endorsed the draft constitutional amendments it received from the House by a majority vote on September 28th. The draft was sent to King Abdullah II for approval and publication.

The amendments maintain the minimum age for candidates in the House of Representatives at 30 years old, instead of 25 years old as proposed by the government. They also stipulate that ministers be tried before the respective civilian courts in the capital.

The amendments include a special chapter on the establishment of a constitutional court. Its members will serve a single, six-year term. The amendments also establish an independent commission to supervise and conduct the parliamentary elections.

The amendments give the judiciary the right to adjudicate the validity of prosecution and consider appeals. They also prohibit the issuing of "temporary laws" unless the parliament is dissolved or a natural disaster, war or other emergency occurs.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to Article 69 that would have increased the term of the speaker of the House from one to two years.

Political analyst Walid Zahra said the constitutional amendments fell short of public expectations, but they represent a positive step forward.

"Pursuant to these amendments and election and political party laws, the days of the 'one-man, one-vote' electoral mechanism are gone for good, which will lead to political progress in the future," he said. "An independent commission will be established to oversee the elections because that role is not vested in the government anymore."

Zahra said it was surprising that the minimum age for House of Representatives candidates was not lowered as that amendment was intended to strengthen the voices of young citizens.

Ayman Salem, a lawyer, said the amendments gave the judiciary new powers by giving it authority over the trial of ministers, the right to adjudicate the validity of prosecutions, and the establishment of the constitutional court.

"The establishment of an independent commission to oversee the elections enhances the transparency of the election process in Jordan," he said.

Sami Mahasneh, a political writer, said Jordan "took several steps forward in its quest to become a modern democratic state" with the passage of these amendments.

"However, the constitutional amendments failed to fulfill the expectations of most popular political movements, especially opposition parties, including the Islamist Movement," he said, adding that the king said the door remains open for constitutional amendments in the future.

Although the public is divided over the amendments, Mahasneh said, "The regime in its entirety possesses the political will to get rid of the legacy that was passed down by previous governments with regard to rigging parliamentary and municipal elections."

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    انس صدقي

    2011-11-26

    Jordan has been suffering from political turmoil for a long time, because political and popular parties have called for the necessity of introducing constitutional reforms in order to ensure the largest possible amount of supervision of the ongoing elections in the country. They want to enable people to exercise their constitutional rights freely and without pressure and practices that are incompatible with human rights. In so doing, they aim to succeed in building a pluralistic democratic system governed by law and the peaceful transition of power, and based on the fair electoral merit, away from all the practices of influential people that aim to marginalize and exclude the other in order to remove him from the political scene and confiscate his right to participate in it. Thus, as a citizen, I would like to shed light on this initiative advocated by the Royal Committee in Jordan, which has been tasked with reviewing the constitutional provisions of the country and working on amending them. In fact, these are considered one of the positive issues that the Kingdom is trying to undertake in order to maintain justice and equality between the different sons of Jordan, who are nominating themselves to participate in the political life in the country. In fact, they would like to practice things that will contribute to developing the country and maintaining security and stability in it, in a way that benefits people and ensures a decent life for them.

  • نزار فاضل

    2011-11-26

    The amendment process is one of the new achievements that will have a positive impact on developing the country and advancing it towards the best. In fact, the committee in charge of this work has amended some constitutional articles which they think have become incompatible with the real life of Jordanians, given that they do not keep up with the current developments in the country and the world. In fact, they no longer meet the ambitions of Jordanians. In this respect, introducing such amendments to the constitution is one of the indicators of the development which the Kingdom is longing to achieve in order to advance the reality of people towards the best. These are also positive steps on the right path, even if they do not meet the ambitions of the people. Yet, they are the beginning in order to achieve the best constitutional reforms for Jordan in the future. Thus, we hope that this will be a good omen for Jordan.

  • نجيب

    2011-10-28

    By God, the constitutional amendment approved by Jordan is a good and daring step, because it provides more supervision over elections.

  • ربيع حماد

    2011-10-28

    These amendments prove that the previous elections were not fair and were not held in the required form; otherwise, why have the Jordanians objected to the elections and why have those constitutional amendments related to elections been approved? In any event, we wish that these amendments would be real orders which would be applied in reality, and not just mere laws written and forgotten among the folds of the books. We wish that those amendments could be a good start to perform more amendments on many laws and incorrect matters in Jordan, and to consider the demands of the people. The King of Jordan should pay attention to the wave of Arab anger prevailing now in all the Arab countries, and its extension to Jordan will lead to the fall of his throne, which he and his fathers have sat on for a very long period of time. Therefore, the King should carry out the demands of the Jordanian people, in order for Jordan to be a state of institutions, not a state of security and intelligence, and to give the people a space of freedom for peaceful expression of themselves, so as not to reach the point of explosion. We want the coming elections in Jordan to be fair and transparent and accurately monitored, in order to ensure the placement of the eligible people to the parliament and to power, because the street is where decisions are made for what they want and do not want.

  • فريد

    2011-10-25

    There are a lot of citizens who complain about the election results, and there are also parties and blocks which always complain that there is an overflow, and that the bias may be for the interest of one side over the other in the Jordanian elections. I think that this constitutional modification will be the best solution to attain integrity and transparency in these elections; this is because there will be more monitoring and there will be more than one person monitoring and emphasizing direction, to avoid any surpassing in the next elections which will be held in the country, so that the citizen will have complete confidence in these elections, and so as to vote freely and give his vote to the candidate or the party which he feels is the best. I think that these amendments which have taken place in Jordan, not only in the elections field, but also in many various fields, are the best for serving the country and will change a lot of situations for the better.

  • ثائر خلد

    2011-10-24

    The constitutional amendments in Jordan are a step towards more stability and calm in the country. That is because the government takes care of everything that may please the citizens. Hence, approving the constitutional amendments, which imposed more supervision on the elections, proves the integrity and credibility of the elections that will be held in Jordan. Hence, it is extremely necessary to supervise the electoral process in Jordan, to assure the Jordanian citizens and to avoid any doubts regarding the integrity and fairness of the electoral process. This will also ensure that there will be no foreign interference that would affect the electoral process on the part of the officials or others parties that may affect the credibility of the electoral process in Jordan. Hence, the government should provide everything that will contribute to monitoring the situation closely and continue working on the constitutional amendments, which will maintain stability in Jordan and pave the way for improving the quality and quantity of the services to be offered to the Jordanian citizen. All these factors will make the citizen feel more comfortable, and it is extremely important to work on more important issues to eliminate unemployment and provide more jobs to the unemployed youth. That is because unemployment means wasted life and this causes an explosion among the unemployed youth, who suffer from poverty, hunger and the inability to continue their life peacefully. Hence, providing jobs is very important for any state that seeks calm and stability. That is because this would mean that many of the problems will be solved and many services would be offered through the service projects that will provide everything that is needed by the Jordanian citizen. Hence, the government must list its priorities in such a way that ensures peace of mind for the Jordanian people.