MPs mixed on constitutional amendments in heated session

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Lower House Monday referred to its Legal Committee the outputs of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, including amendments to the Jordanian Constitution and the political parties and election laws, giving them urgency status.اضافة اعلان

Ninety-five lawmakers spoke in the initial reading of the three drafts, before the MPs voted by majority to refer them to the Legal Committee during a heated session that was chaired by Speaker Abdul Karim Doghmi and attended by Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh and cabinet members.

Lawmakers were divided over certain constitutional amendments with some objecting to them, claiming that they violate the constitution, the concept of separation of powers and create legal loopholes with regard to the King’s powers.

MP Khalil Attieh objected to the amendment to establish a National Security Council, saying that by doing so the government had violated the explicit royal directive that “the government should not introduce any amendments to the work of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System.”

MP Saleh Al-Armouti categorically rejected the formation of a National Security Council headed by the King, saying: “We do not want a parliament deprived of its authority; we want to keep the Jordanian constitution of 1952.”

Armouti asked that that draft amendments be withdrawn, saying that they “will prevent the Lower House from exercising its mandate”. MP Fareed Haddad asked “how can a council headed by the King be accountable to the Lower House?”

The prime minister told the lawmakers that the constitutional amendment referred by the government to the legislature, which includes the formation of a national security and foreign policy council, is based on Article 45 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the constitution or law allows mandating any other body some of the cabinet’s powers in the management of the state’s internal and external affairs.

He rejected accusations that his government is undermining the Constitution. 
The aim of the amendment, he explained, is to find a constitutional basis to protect society and sovereign institutions from “partisan bickering”, pointing out that the government adhered to the royal directive to refer these drafts without change to the House to “carry out the constitutional requirement”.

Under the constitutional amendment, a National Security and Foreign Policy Council, headed by the King, is to be set up to handle all issues related to the Kingdom’s defense, national security, and foreign policy under an order to be issued in that respect. The council comprises the prime minister, the ministers of defense, foreign affairs and interior, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the director of the General Intelligence Directorate, in addition to two members appointed by the King.

Minister of State for Legal Affairs Wafaa Bani Mustafa confirmed the existence of a legal basis for the establishment of a National Security Council aimed at facilitating cooperation and coordination between the military and civil institutions.

Doghmi pointed out that the draft laws regulating political life in the Kingdom empower youth and women as well political parties.

Other lawmakers objected to the phrase “inclusive identity” which was in the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System’s preamble to their recommendations. They said that the phrase is meant to dilute the Jordanian national identity and is step towards liquidating the Palestinian cause.

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