Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Jordan's king prepares for critical poll
by Staff Writers
Amman, Jordan (UPI) Oct 10, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

King Abdullah II is setting the scene for a political revolution in his desert country with landmark parliamentary elections scheduled for 2013, part of a package of reforms on which he's staking the survival of his Hashemite throne amid rising discontent.

The monarch, who has ruled since his revered father King Hussein died in 1999, issued a royal decree Thursday dissolving the tribally dominated Parliament halfway through its four-year term.

Abdullah, a key U.S. ally, was bowing to a growing clamor for reforms, after months of dragging his feet on and paving the way for early elections that political analysts fear could be divisive.

Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh, a veteran politician appointed by the king in April, resigned Wednesday and was replaced by French-educated reformist Abdullah Ensour. He's Abdullah's third prime minister in the last year, reflecting the growing unrest over the monarchy's seeming reluctance to make substantive constitutional changes in line with reforms enacted in other Arab states like Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia since January 2011.

Led by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood that has a hard-line leadership, the demand for meaningful constitutional change has been building up to a pitch the royal palace can no longer tolerate.

Adding to Abdullah's woes is a mounting economic crisis in his resource-poor nation and the spillover from the bloodbath in neighboring Syria, with tens of thousands of refugees pouring into Jordan, straining resources to breaking point.

The IAF, emboldened by the growing criticism of the monarchy, staged a major protest demonstration in Amman Oct. 5.

There had been feared it would trigger clashes with a planned march by royalists with links to the security services. But the king's supporters called it off at the last minute, defusing tensions -- for a while anyway.

Unlike other regional states torn by violence during the dictator-toppling Arab Spring, Jordan has been relatively unscathed and personal attacks on the monarch have been the exception rather than the rule.

But regional upheaval and the growing pressures on the kingdom are undermining Jordan's stability, leaving Abdullah with little room for maneuver.

"Discontent has spread beyond the cities, the main centers of opposition, to the tribal areas which have traditionally been the monarchy's main source of support," Oxford Analytica observed.

"Much of the political focus has been on placating demands to curb elite corruption. Despite a few high-profile cases, this has proved to be hard to achieve."

Still, Abdullah has moved in recent months to meet the growing popular demand for a greater role in decision-making.

He's changed 42 of the articles in Jordan's constitution to give Parliament more powers, including a say in selecting prime ministers, a prerogative the monarchy's been particularly reluctant to relinquish.

Abdullah and his royal advisers, along with the security services that are a pillar of the monarchy, see the parliamentary election as a key step toward gradual democratic change.

The recent constitutional amendments, they argue, enhance the power of the legislature, long dominated by Bedouin tribal leaders loyal to the king, while the creation of an election commission will ensure a fairer process.

Abdullah will retain the power to appoint and dismiss governments but he's promised to choose prime ministers who reflect the wishes of the new Parliament.

This hasn't satisfied the Muslim Brotherhood-led reformists. They say the new election law, passed in July, will mean a weak and splintered legislature dominated by royalists, with lawmakers elected in heavily gerrymandered districts designed to prevent national parties emerging.

The IAF has vowed to boycott the election, as it did in 2010. This could dangerously undermine the new assembly's legitimacy and escalate tensions.

Abdullah's problem is intensified by Jordan's ethnic makeup, particularly Palestinians who comprise around 60 percent of the population.

The so-called East Bankers, the Bedouin tribes, fear a Palestinian takeover -- the more so since Abdullah married Queen Rania, a Palestinian, in 1993. They adamantly oppose reforms that could give the IAF control of Parliament, challenging the monarchy and the royal patronage network they feed off.

"The regime will need to balance each element while navigating Jordan's economic challenges to demonstrate the durability and strength of its grip on power," the U.S. global security consultancy Stratfor observed.

"In this environment, intensified unrest in Jordan seems likely -- especially ahead of the elections."


Related Links
Democracy in the 21st century at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Pussy Riot: symbol of the new anti-Putin opposition
Moscow (AFP) Oct 10, 2012
The three convicted members of Pussy Riot, almost unknown one year ago, grew into the stars of a global cause celebre symbolising the repression of civic dissent under President Vladimir Putin. The all-girl punk band, with their home-made balaclavas and neon dresses, from October 2011 to February 2012 staged impromptu performances of protest songs in public places such as a subway station an ... read more

Planning can cut costs of disasters: World Bank

12 Chinese workers killed, 24 hurt in dormitory blaze

Far, far beyond wrist radios

World leaders meet on disaster management in Japan

Court delays Australian miner's Malaysia plant

Making computer data storage cheaper and easier

Architect shares simple green architecture improvements for homes and offices

An operating system in the cloud

Freezing water droplets form sharp ice peaks

EU lays out 'blue economy' agenda

River Thames invaded with foreign species

Southern Hemisphere becoming drier

DRI scientist co-authors study outlining vast differences in polar ocean microbial communities

ESA satellites looking deeper into sea ice

Russian boy discovers 'woolly mammoth of the century'

Life found in lake frozen for centuries

Contracts for Community Support Agriculture clarify expectations for producers and consumers

Delaying harvest of fodder maize results in a higher starch concentration and lower methane emission

Rearing Technique May Bolster Biocontrol Wasp's Commercial Prospects

Stanford researchers show oil palm plantations are clearing carbon-rich tropical forests in Borneo

Floods kill 7 in Russian Caucasus: official

NASA's HS3 Mission Thoroughly Investigates Long-Lived Hurricane Nadine

Japan tsunami gives lessons on disaster management

Nigerian president pledges $110 million to floods victims

Amnesty International calls on DRCongo to halt clashes in east

Nigerian army denies rampage, killing civilians after attack

Nigeria military shoots dead several people after blast: witnesses

Ivory Coast to reopen Ghana border on Monday: defence minister

New human neurons from adult cells right there in the brain

Dating encounters between modern humans and Neandertals

Last speaker of 'fisherfolk' dialect dies

Compelling evidence that brain parts evolve independently

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement