Islamists to boycott local polls citing ‘negative practices’

The Islamic Action Front Party quarters - (Archives)
(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Jordan’s mainstream Islamists said Wednesday that the current political situation in the country and the latest changes to the Constitution were behind a decision to boycott local polls slated for March.اضافة اعلان

The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, announced late Wednesday its decision not to take part in governorate and municipal elections, including Amman’s municipal council, set for March 22.

In a statement shared on its platforms and mainstream media following an IAF executive bureau meeting, the group charged the government of pressuring the party into withdrawing from the race by creating conditions similar to those preceding the 2007 and 2020 elections “which were rigged”, and cited constitutional amendments that changed the nature of the political system towards an “absolute monarchy that compromises the general mandate of the government”.

The amendments were endorsed by the Lower House by an overwhelming majority of 94 votes, out of the total 130 deputies.

The IAF accused the government of taking advantage of the recommendations of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, comprising more than 90 members from across the board, to pass controversial amendments “that contradict with the spirit of reform”.

The Islamists also cited “repressive measures” taken by authorities, including arrests of political activists protesting deals with Israel, including the natural gas agreement and the more recent declaration of intent over a deal under which Jordan will export electricity to Israel in return for desalinated sea water.

“Those who look closely at the current situation will realize that the general public and the cadres of the party are feeling disappointed due to the negative practices of the establishment and the continued harassment and political pressures that would undermine a conducive environment to hold the elections.”

IAF Secretary General Murad Al-Adayleh said Wednesday that the government cannot have it all; suppressing the party and expecting it to be part of the game. He charged that the increasingly strict security measures are ruining chances of partisan participant in elections.

IAF spokesperson Thabet Al-Assaf said in remarks to Jordan News that the party was initially willing to run in the upcoming elections but the “political situation and tightening security grip are not encouraging. We see no real reform and the statement issued sounds the alarm against this approach.”

Adayleh said the suspension of MP Hassan Al-Riyati’s membership for two years, following a headline-grabbing brawl with other deputies, was part of a campaign targeting Islamists, since the lawmaker is a member of the IAF’s Lower House bloc, Al-Islah (reform).

Former deputy prime minister and veteran lawmaker Mamdouh Al-Abbadi said that the government must be embarrassed now and in an “unpleasant situation”, after the Islamists “threw the towel”.

“Let me remind you that the IAF represents the strongest and the oldest political group and the decision came at a time when the government is calling for active political parties’ participation in the political process.”

He believes that the Islamist group has leverage through its latest position and is likely to maintain the street’s favorable view.

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