Experts divided over new council’s legality, authority

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The establishment of a National Security Council, as proposed by the constitutional amendments that were passed by Lower House Legal Committee on Sunday, is receiving mixed reactions by legal experts, with some describing it as an attack on the Constitution. اضافة اعلان

Lawyer, former member Lower House and a member of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Kais Zayadin believes that the proposed council is a good step towards embracing reforms especially after the Legal Committee made fundamental changes to what the government had submitted. 

“Under the proposed draft the King is no longer the head of the council but he can call the council to convene,” Zayadin told Jordan News.

“Sometimes political parties would carry the country’s foreign affairs to a place that might impact the Jordanian national security. Therefore, I believe in the existence of such a council but with amending its structure, which the Legal Committee had done,” Zayadin said.

He said that the Kingdom does not have the option to stay in its place “especially that the old way of doing things proved to be ineffective.” Adding: “It is obvious where the old way got us, so we have to push in the direction of real political reforms.”

Lawyer Omar Al-Khataibeh told Jordan News that the Legal Committee did well by removing His Majesty King Abdullah from presiding over the National Security Council. “This is because the King is the head of the state and cannot chair a committee,” he said. “Only the executive authority can assume the functions of this council,” he added.

“The council must take into account the partisan diversity of Jordan. It has to be an independent and distinct authority to exercise its role in a balanced way,” lawyer Mohammad Saif-Eddin told Jordan News.

“The new amendments did not grant new prerogatives to His Majesty, as they came to show how these powers are exercised to maintain the impartiality of these sensitive positions away from any political or partisan considerations,” he added.

Lawyer Emad Adwan told Jordan News that the National Security Council would be responsible for comprehensive national security issues without having anything to do with the work of the government. The council’s powers are to facilitate cooperation and coordination between state institutions.

“One of the council’s tasks is to coordinate national action and develop a strategy. Also it must coordinate and advise on policies about national security issues,” Adwan said.

“It is not a parallel authority but will be present in emergencies that require intervention to protect the interests of citizens and the country,” he added.

However, Legal scholar Abdelrauof Alkasasbeh believes that establishing this council is an attack on the Constitution and he questions the powers of the council while stressing the importance of holding the council accountable for its decisions.

“Nowhere in the world or under any constitution can there be a power that exists without accountability. However, our Constitution states that the King cannot be questioned or held accountable, so how can we make the council accountable?” Alkasasbeh told Jordan News.

He also questioned the council’s powers; whether it will act as an advisory body or an official authority that makes decisions and implement action.

“If it is the latter, it would be a catastrophe. Things are not 100 percent clear yet,” he added.

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