Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood to Boycott Elections Again

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Once again the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan has announced its plan to boycott elections, demanding that reforms restricting the powers of the king be considered first.

A leader of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood revealed to Al-Hayat yesterday [June 25] the Brotherhood’s decision to boycott local elections, scheduled for August.

He pointed out that it is possible to schedule or defer some demands for reform that deal with the powers of King Abdullah II. He insinuated that imminent decisions could be taken against some of the group's leaders for announcing a rare initiative that narrows the gap between them and the authorities, called the Zamzam initiative. 

Zaki Bani Ersheid, deputy leader of the Jordanian Brotherhood and a main decision-maker within the group, said that the Brotherhood’s leadership “took a final decision to boycott the upcoming local elections, which is a decision that has not yet been officially announced.” He noted that the government “did not provide any guarantees.” The Brotherhood boycotted the last parliamentary elections in protest of the election law, which according to them “reduces their influence.”

The doves and moderate movements blamed the current leadership of the Brotherhood — which is controlled by the hawks movement — for failing to hold a serious dialogue with the authorities, and failing to contain the group’s internal disagreements.

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Ersheid responded, saying, “When these groups were leading [the Brotherhood], there was real failure and regression. For instance, the former executive office was based on a quota system, and was not successful.” He added, “There are current attempts to reproduce the same failure. Those who accuse the current leadership of failing are the ones who seek to produce a failure again.” The Jordanian Brotherhood has witnessed several internal crises, most notably in 2009 and 2010. They occurred against the backdrop of regulatory issues, chief among these being the relationship with the Hamas movement.

On blaming the hawks and hardline movement for the failure, given that they did not send reassuring messages to the king, who repeatedly suggested that the group aspire to power, ُErsheid said, “Reassuring messages require lines of communication. Yet, the king’s apparatuses have worked on disabling these lines of communication over the recent past. They also sought to tarnish the image of the Islamist movement in front of the decision-makers.”

He continued, “I feel that the gap between the [royal] palace and the Muslim Brotherhood is widening because of the ongoing erosion of the prestige of the state, and the status and legitimacy of its figures.”

He added, “Political obstruction clearly prevails over the scene between the decision-makers and us, and the national and popular forces certainly have the will and desire to break the bottleneck. Yet, the regime is not willing to find a way out of this complex crisis.”

Ersheid noted that it is possible to schedule and defer some of the demands and constitutional amendments that affect the king’s powers. He said, “When there is real intention to discuss the reforms file, everything will be possible.”

Jordan had witnessed several protests criticizing King Abdullah II, while tribal entities allied with the Brotherhood have focused on the need to limit the king’s powers, which allow him to designate and dismiss the cabinet, and dissolve parliament.

On [claims that] the group did not make any gains in parliamentary elections and the government, the Islamist leader said, “Our interpretation for now confirms that our previous decision to refuse to participate in all institutions was successful. Along with the pressure on the ground, it helped complete some of the reforms that the regime was forced to make.”

Ersheid admitted that popular momentum fell back in the protests that the Brotherhood and its allies call for. Nevertheless, he said that the decreasing number of protestors “is normal and just a phase.”

He asked, “Why does the regime wait for a new wave of protests to fulfill the people’s demands? A new wave is inevitable. Once prices increase, the people will take to the streets in large numbers.” He continued, “When we began calling for reforming the regime, rather than overthrowing it, we were considering the nature of the local and regional situation. Reforming the regime is the most appropriate [option] for Jordan, and we hope that the authorities realize this before it is too late. No one will be able to control the results of the protests.”

Ersheid said that Jordan has been influenced by regional events, and pointed out that reaching a settlement to the Syrian situation “may help accelerate or complicate local reforms.” He went on, saying, “The events in Syria and Egypt may help improve the climate for reform in the whole region, not just in Jordan. We are betting on the success of the Egyptian experience, despite all obstacles and world conspiracies that the Egyptian regime is facing.”

Regarding the Zamzam Initiative, which was launched by some of the group’s leaders and calls for narrowing the gap [between the Brotherhood and] the authorities, he said: “It is an internal file, and we will deal with it according to regulatory foundations. In a [few] days or months at most, we will discover how much the initiative’s pioneers are mistaken. We gave them a number of chances, but they have exhausted them.”

This initiative — which some believe may cause a split within the Brotherhood’s ranks — was supported by parties favoring the authorities. The initiative’s pioneers — all of whom are affiliated with the doves movement close to the [royal] palace — emphasized protecting “the prestige of the state” and “active political participation.”

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Found in: zamzam, political islam, islamist, election
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