Lawmakers engage in fistfights in heated session

Lower House was to begin debate on constitutional amendments

Jordanian parliament members are separated during an altercation in the parliament in Amman on December 28, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
AMMAN — Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament Abdel Karim Al-Doghmi had to adjourn Tuesday’s session after lawmakers engaged in scuffles that ended in fistfights following an altercation between Doghmi and two deputies in separate incidents. The session was dedicated to discussing constitutional amendments. Doghmi had objected to the use of the expression “shame on us” by Deputy Raed Smirat and later told Deputy Sulieman Abu Yihya to “shut up” and “get out”. اضافة اعلان

The argument erupted during a debate on an amendment adding the female noun for a Jordanian citizen, to a chapter in the constitution guaranteeing equal rights of all citizens, according to AFP.

Pandemonium broke out after head of the Legal Committee, Abdulmonem Odat, tried to explain the reason for adding the term “Jordanian women” to Article six. of the Constitution. Several MPs angrily disputed the amendment as “useless”, in the session broadcast on Al-Mamlaka TV’s channel.

A number of lawmakers interrupted each other in what became a heated session. Doghmi lost control when he threatened to expel one deputy from the session. He had to adjourn the session for half hour but when deputies returned a quarrel broke out and a number of lawmakers engaged in fistfights reflecting tensions over the controversial constitutional amendments. Finally the speaker suspended the session until Wednesday, but later it was announced that the session will resume on Thursday.

The House Legal Committee had passed the amendments on Sunday after approving the set-up of a National Security Council which will not be headed by the King.  But Deputy Saleh Al-Armouti criticized the committee for playing with words and setting up a “fourth estate”. He also complained of pressures being applied on the lawmakers to pass the amendments.

Among other constitutional reforms to be discussed is the halving of the Lower House speaker’s mandate to one year from the current two-year term.

The Kingdom’s constitution, introduced in 1952, has been amended 29 times, with the monarch’s powers increasing at the expense of the legislature, according to experts

A number of deputies had criticized Doghmi for his authoritarian way of running sessions and not allowing his colleagues to speak freely. 

Meanwhile, women activists held a sit-in for the second day in front of Parliament to protest the addition of the term “Jordanian women” to the Constitution.

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