Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood Demands Election Delay

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood has asked the government to postpone upcoming parliamentary elections, in the wake of unrest within the Brotherhood's ranks over its planned boycott of the vote. Tamer Samadi reports that the government is unlikely to delay the elections, but might offer other compromises.

al-monitor Protesters from the Islamic Action Front Party and other opposition parties gesture with their chained hands as they demand political reforms, in Amman, Jordan October 5, 2012.  Photo by REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed.

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zaki bani arshid

Oct 22, 2012

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood demanded yesterday [Oct. 21] that the parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year be postponed, while calling for "immediate" dialogue in a bid to reach consensus with various state institutions, a senior leader in the group said.

The group also called for a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II once "initial" and "fast" understandings are reached, as well as for an agreement concerning a road map that would rescue the country from the "political deadlock" that is currently plaguing it, according to political insiders and current and former officials, including former Prime Minister Aoun Khasawneh and former Prime Minister and current Speaker of the Senate Taher al-Masri.

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat learned that new understandings have been reached between state parties and leftist and nationalist parties.

According to these understandings, these leftist and nationalist parties would participate in the elections, and the state would in return guarantee electoral integrity, while providing them with financial funding that would enable them to launch their electoral campaign given their lack of resources.

Zaki Bani Arshid, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, made a new proposal yesterday that included a call to postpone the parliamentary elections until new understandings with the state are reached.

"No one is denying the political impasse plaguing the country, and dialogue is once again required," Arshid told Al-Hayat. "Our participation based on the current law is tantamount to political suicide."

He also stressed that any future dialogue must lead to "quick" consensus between the various parties, to be followed by a meeting with the Jordanian king to "approve the conclusions reached by the parties to the dialogue.”

However, sources within the government emphasized the difficulty of satisfying such calls at this time, due to the short period of time left before the elections, as well as to constitutional complications related to the return of the dissolved parliament or the declaration of a state of emergency.

The sources said that the state is willing to carry out the elections on schedule, while seeking to calm the situation and absorb the public's anger through several decisions. Chief among these is releasing the movement’s prisoners prior to the Eid al-Adha holiday.

These decisions have been confirmed by unexpected movements by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, who met with the families of the detainees late on Saturday night [Oct. 20]. Ensour also visited the tent put up by Jordanian journalists about a month ago in protest against the Press and Publications Law.

During these meetings, the prime minister hinted at a future release of political prisoners accused of attacking the Jordanian king, in a move that politicians and journalists deemed an attempt by the current prime minister and former opponents to "calm the boiling situation across the provinces as a result of the movement.”

Ensour made remarkable statements yesterday, saying that "a new sun will rise in Jordan and new oxygen will be breathed in the coming period.”

Prior to that, Ensour sent clear messages about the government’s neutrality and commitment to the transparency and fairness of the upcoming elections, as he announced to a group of the king's inner circle during a special meeting that “neither the state nor any of its apparatuses will run candidates in the elections.”

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat learned that there are official efforts encouraging prominent political figures, along with leftist and nationalist opposition parties, to run for the elections in order to "vaccinate" the next parliament with political, economic and social skills in the absence of prominent political figures in the parliamentary scene, such as the Brotherhood and the National Front for Reform led by former Prime Minister Ahmad Obeidat.

In this context, informed sources within the opposition's coalition of leftist and nationalist parties revealed to Al-Hayat the intention of the majority of these parties — known for their opposition to the Brotherhood — to participate in the elections in exchange for guarantees of integrity, the release of all detainees and the financing of their electoral campaigns by the state treasury (30,000 - 50,000 Jordanian dinars [$42,400 - $70,600] for each participating party).

Al-Hayat tried to obtain a response from the government concerning this information to no avail.

The sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that one party out of the coalition's six parties is adamant on boycotting the elections, namely the Popular Unity Party, "which boycotted the 2010 elections along with the Brotherhood."

But the Secretary-General of the Jordanian Communist Party Munir Hamarneh, one of the participants in unannounced meetings with officials, told Al-Hayat that "our meetings with some officials never tackled the issue of campaign funding.”

As for whether or not he will participate in the elections, Hamarneh confirmed that the decision "is still under discussion," but explained that the majority of the coalition's parties which oppose the electoral law "view the existence of a national list under the current law as a real chance to form new and essential alliances.”

He said that Jordan “suffers from severe bilateralism between the state organs on the one hand and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other,” adding that “such bilateralism requires the establishment of a third movement which includes leftist and nationalist forces. No future parliament will change anything in the balance of power as long as the traditional bilateralism still exists.”

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