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Middle east

King Abdullah II dissolves parliament, calls early election

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-23

Faced with mounting criticism over government inaction, King Abdullah II of Jordan dissolved parliament on Monday and ordered the holding of a general election two years before the scheduled date.

AFP - King Abdullah II of Jordan dissolved parliament on Monday and ordered the holding of a general election two years early.
   
In a royal decree, the king dissolved parliament from Tuesday and instructed the government to take the necessary steps to organise the poll.
   
The outgoing parliament, which was dominated by independent and tribal MPs loyal to the king, had come under mounting press criticism for inaction and failure to do more to oversee the government.
   
Some pro-government MPs have been pushing for changes to the electoral law that the Islamist opposition charges would further disadvantage their candidates.
   
It was not immediately clear if the law would be amended before the early election, which had not been due before November 2011. It was the second time the king had dissolved parliament early since he acceded to the throne in 1999.
   
Only six of the 22 candidates fielded by the Islamic Action Front were victorious in the last general election on November 20, 2007, a tally sharply down on the 17 seats the group won in the previous polls in 2003.
   
After that vote, the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, charged that there had been widespread vote-buying in some constituencies despite pledges of transparency from the government.
   
Even in their traditional stronghold of Zarqa, an impoverished city east of the capital Amman, the Islamists failed to win a single seat.
   
The Islamist group had withdrawn all of its candidates from municipal polls in July 2007 complaining that there were insufficient safeguards against electoral fraud.
   
However Jordan's US ally praised the conduct of the 2007 parliamentary election, saying that it had been a "smooth process that included independent national observers, a high percentage of women candidates and female voter turnout, and active participation by Jordanian civil society."
   
"We commend the government and Jordan's citizens for ensuring another step has been taken on the country's path of political development," a US statement said at the time.
   
Seven women won election that time -- one more than the statutory quota. It was the first time a woman had ever won an unreserved seat.

Date created : 2009-11-23

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