Jordan's King Poised to Meet With Muslim Brotherhood

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Jordan’s King Abdullah II may meet with opposition figures, including some from the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to defuse tensions that have been simmering over amending the country’s electoral law. Political heavyweights are converging in Amman for meetings, writes Tamer al-Samadi for Al-Hayat.  

Intensive meetings between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and key political forces and figures were held in the Jordanian capital, Amman, over the past week. The meetings were held amid an escalation of protests, and the announcement by popular movements and forces that they will boycott the parliamentary elections set to be held before the end of the year.

Sources close to the Royal Court told Al-Hayat that the meetings “aim to ease the tense atmosphere, achieve consensus on the next stage and hold the elections as scheduled.”

The king personally took part in a series of public and confidential meetings with select political and economic figures. According to sources close to the Royal Court, the royal schedule may very soon include a meeting between Jordan’s king and key leaders of the Islamic opposition in the country, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to an informed Jordanian source, the objective of the meetings — which are usually held in the Royal Palace in the upscale Dabouq suburb or the houses of figures close to the regime — is to allow the king to explore all aspects of the local equation independently from the studies and figures provided by official sides, in order to make decisions and identify the options.

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The studies and figures provided over the past months have resulted in retaining the one-voice equation in the controversial electoral law in effect since the 90s. The results of a confidential official study recently published by Al-Hayat warned against amending the electoral law.

The study also stressed that changing the law would give the Muslim Brotherhood a parliamentary majority, and thus complete control over both parliament and government.

Similarly, the Royal Court seeks to organize similar meetings with notables who enjoy tribal influence in the governorates. Surprisingly, these groups have held continuous protests and demonstrations calling for reform and fighting corruption.

A few days ago, the king met with several figures in the homes of notables and tribal courts in Irbid, Zarqa and Salt, and listened to their demands and vision on the events happening on the local arena. The elections were also discussed in the meetings. An official source told Al-Hayat that “these meetings are continuous and will not stop.”

In the city of Salt near Amman, the king met with tribal elders at the home of Senator Marwan Hammoud the day before yesterday [Sept. 18]. He said that the integrity of the elections is a “red line” no one will be allowed to cross. He stressed his determination to continue with reform, referring to the multiple challenges the country is facing due to the continuation of the Syrian crisis.

According to Maher Abu-Tayr, a prominent former adviser in the Jordanian political decision-making circles, the king is counting on his meetings with former and current state officials “who have experience and bold ideas.”

Information leaked from within these narrow circles indicates that a senior figure asked a former prime minister to suspend his visit to Europe three days ago and head to Amman immediately. The Royal Court is seeing a constant flow of senior officials in the current and former governments.

Adnan Abu-Odeh, head of the Royal Court and former adviser to the late King Hussein Bin-Talal, does not hesitate to provide a solution that veteran politicians see as “urgent.” Abu-Odeh says that “what the country is experiencing today is similar to what happened in the 70s when late King Hussein addressed political chaos by searching for a strong and solid political team at his side.”

Earlier, former Court Minister Marwan al-Muasher proposed another solution calling for drafting a new national charter to confront a deep political and economic crisis not witnessed in Jordan since 1988.

Former Minister Taher al-Adwan expressed concern over the parliamentary elections. He warned yesterday against “the formation of a parliament comprising new deputies driven by personal interests in the absence of the opposition forces at parliament.”

But the government is betting that the next parliament will include political elites and various forces after the number of those registered for the elections reached approximately 1.3 million voters yesterday.

Activists from the Muslim Brotherhood announced yesterday that preparations are under way for holding what they described as the “largest” demonstration since the start of the movements demanding reform. They said in a statement that “about 30 popular movements will take part in organizing a demonstration early next month, in which tens of thousands will participate.”

In a later development, Deputy Comptroller General of the Muslim Brotherhood Zaki Bani Arshid revealed yesterday that meetings will be held soon between officials in the Royal Court and Muslim Brotherhood leaders to dissuade the latter from boycotting the elections.

Arshid told Al-Hayat that the group “received a phone call yesterday evening from a prominent figure who said he has been charged by the Royal Court to hold new dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

He said these meetings will likely culminate in another meeting with the Jordanian king.

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Found in: jordanian muslim brotherhood, jordan, electoral reform, elections in the arab world, elections, amman
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