Jordan King Releases Detainees Who Protested, Urges All to Vote

Jordan’s King Abdullah II ordered his prime minister to release 20 activists accused of insulting him. Abdullah also called for all factions — including the Muslim Brotherhood — to participate in forthcoming elections.

al-monitor Political prisoners and their relatives shout slogans to protest about their arrest after their release at the Prime Minister's building in Amman on Oct. 24, 2012.  Photo by REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed.

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king abdullah ii, jordanian muslim brotherhood, jordanian election law

Oct 24, 2012

Jordan's King Abdullah II instructed Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour to release the 20 detainees belonging to protest movements accused of “insulting” the king.

Abdullah called on all Jordanians, including the opposition, to participate in the parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 23, stressing “the need to distinguish between a national constructive opposition and a negative mobility that does not serve the process of reform and the future of the nation.”

He noted that “catchy slogans are not the solution,” adding that “those with extremist, reactionary mentalities cannot be entrusted with our children’s future.”

The Jordanian king's comments came during a “mass” popular meeting he called for yesterday [Oct. 23]. The meeting included a large number of representatives of Jordanian forces and was held at the headquarters of the Royal Court.

Notable was the broad participation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and popular opposition movements, namely those coming from the southern city of Tafila, which has witnessed continuous demonstrations since the start of the popular movement in January 2011.

During the meeting, which was attended by close to 3,000 figures, the king expressed regret over the fact that “a small number of those within the [popular] movements have called for toppling the regime.”

He added: “If the goal behind this call is to question the Hashemite stewardship of the Jordanian State, let me speak very clearly: For us Hashemites, governance was never a booty we sought, but a responsibility, duty and sacrifice we have offered in service of the nation and in defense of its issues and interests.”

He added, “Our rule was never based on a monopoly of power, nor on various ways of maintaining force, but rather on taking care of state institutions which are run by the people, of all classes, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.”

King Abdullah underlined “the need to distinguish between a national constructive opposition and a positive [popular] movement, and between an opposition and a negative [popular] movement that does not serve the process of reform and the future of the nation.”

He noted: “Constructive opposition is a legitimate and required ambition. The negative movements, hollow slogans and attempts to foment sedition and chaos are unacceptable.

“We must remember that catchy slogans are not the answer, and that extremist reactionary mentalities cannot be entrusted with the future of our children,” he added.

The Jordanian monarch ordered the government on Tuesday [Oct. 23] “to take the necessary measures to release the detainees [who had participated in] marches” in the kingdom.

On Oct. 12, Amnesty International said that 20 detainees, who are members of groups calling for reform, were arrested after taking part in peaceful demonstrations demanding political, constitutional and anti-corruption reforms.

The attorney general of the State Security Court had charged the detainees with “incitement against the regime,” “inciting sectarian strife” and “illegal gathering.”

The Jordanian king sharply criticized former officials — whom he did not identify — saying: “Today, we hear a few who have served in senior posts criticize the current policies and decisions, and defend their experiences and performances, even though they themselves had developed these policies and programs.

“When in power, [they see] everything as right and going well. When out of power, [they see] everything as wrong and chaotic,” he said informally, in a clear reference to former prime ministers like Ahmed Obeidat and Awn al-Khasawneh, who have repeatedly criticized the official policies and announced boycotting the parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year.

During the meeting, King Abdullah called on all Jordanians, including the opposition, to participate in the parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 23.

He said: “If you want to change Jordan for the better, there is a chance [to do so] through the next elections and parliament. Those demanding additional reforms or developing the electoral law should operate under the ceiling of the parliament and through the ballot box, which reflect the will of the people.

“The door is open to everyone, including the opposition, to be in the next parliament. The door to political participation is still open to all social spectra who are keen on the interest of Jordan, through actions not words.”

The king noted that “the citizens’ votes in this election will determine the composition of the parliament and government, thus the policies and decisions that will affect their lives.”

The Muslim Brotherhood and other popular movements officially announced on July 12 boycotting the upcoming elections, saying that the next parliament “will be a replica of the previous one.”

They have demanded a “modern” electoral law that will lead to the formation of elected parliamentary governments, and constitutional amendments that would limit the king's powers.

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