Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour put an end to the debate that had been ongoing for two years in the kingdom about possibly delegating the powers of Jordanian King Abdullah II to the parliament through radical amendments to the constitution that has been in effect since 1952.
Ensour refused to amend these powers in the constitution, contrary to what the opposition, especially Islamists, had been calling for.
In response to Al-Hayat’s question in this regard, during a negotiation meeting called for by the government yesterday [Jan. 17] attended by a limited number of writers and journalists, Ensour answered, “The king will start delegating his powers voluntarily to the next parliament, step by step. We are not currently ready to amend the king’s powers in the constitution because the democratic process in Jordan has only just begun, and partisan life has not yet reached maturity.”
In an indication that the parliamentary majority would form the future ministries, Ensour recently communicated to some sources close to him the king’s intention to “give up some of his powers voluntary.”
However, it wasn’t long before the opposition responded by releasing their own statements. Secretary-General of the Islamic Action Front (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan), Hamza Mansour, considered that the demands related to the amendment of the constitution’s Articles 34, 35 and 36 are essential in order to “agree on the shape the next stage will take.”
These articles directly affect the king’s powers to appoint ministers, accept their resignation and disband the parliament. Refined Jordanian sources told Al-Hayat that “some active sides in the government refuse the amendment of these articles, under any circumstances, either now or in the future.”
In this framework, Ensour asserted that the phase which will follow the scheduled elections on Jan. 23 “will not witness any confrontation with the Brotherhood.” The latter had declared its intention to boycott the elections, voicing its objection to the law governing them and their refusal to make additional constitutional amendments that will limit the king’s powers.
Ensour indicated that King Abdullah II “is seeking, with all his power, to achieve desired reform, which others are demanding.” He also noted “the importance of taking matters to the negotiating table to discuss matters of dispute and details of the coming phase.”
Horeover, Ensour expressed his sadness regarding the Brotherhood’s persistence, adding, “We did not want to form a new parliament without the participation of Islamists since they are quintessential to political life in the country.”
As for the protests which the Brotherhood called for today in central Amman, he said, “We hope these protests will be organized and not present any sort of unexpected surprises.” He also asserted that the government will provide complete protection for the demonstrators.
However, Ensour believed that “the Brotherhood took their multiple mistakes to the top of the cliff and can no longer come down.” Regarding the elections, he emphasized that election day “will not see any governmental, security or military intervention. Any attempts to mess with the coming political process will directly influence Jordan’s reputation and the country’s personal credibility.” For the first time, he revealed the referral of 16 cases to the courts, after the people in question were accused of using political money for election campaign advertising.
Al-Hayat spoke to Jordanian politicians and analysts who believe the parliament which will result from the coming elections might be “temporary” and “transitional,” in an attempt to reestablish the political scene and end escalating tensions between the different governing bodies, on the one hand, and the opposition forces refusing the current course of reforms, on the other hand.
Meanwhile, sources close to the decision-makers disclosed to Al-Hayat recommendations which were submitted to supreme Jordanian figures during an internal meeting that was recently held in Amman and attended by former ministers and prominent politicians close to the government.
The recommendations included calls for the new parliament to be “transitional” and cut short its four-year-mandate determined by the law, and to suggest that the Brothers participate in Jordan’s parliament. However, according to the sources, these recommendations “were strongly rejected by active and influential sides in the government, whereas other official (political) sides saw them as yet another endeavor to end the crisis in the country.”