Political parties, figures reject constitutional amendments — statement

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Public figures and members of Jordanian political parties released a statement on Tuesday, strongly criticized the constitutional amendments being discussed currently by the Lower House. Signatories to the letter included members from the Islamic Action Front (IAF) Party, Stronger Jordan Party, the Partnership and Rescue Party and the “Shura Party”. اضافة اعلان

Parliamentary discussions of the constitutional amendments, which were revised and approved by the Legal Committee on Sunday, began on Tuesday morning, but the session was adjourned when lawmakers got into physical altercations and intense verbal exchanges under the dome. Speaker Abdelkarim Al-Doghmi had to abruptly end the debate. 

The most controversial of the constitutional amendments that are under discussion is the setting up of the National Security Council and its powers in relation to the Constitution. Another hot issue is the reduction of the Lower House Speaker’s term limit to one year from two years, granting the King additional appointing powers, as well as adding the term “Jordanian women” to Article 6 of the Constitution.

Abdul Monem Odat, head of the Lower House Legal Committee told reporters Sunday that the committee had amended the government’s original draft and in doing so it deleted the part which says that the King shall head the proposed council. 

Murad Adaileh of the Islamic Action Front Party (IAF), who co-signed the statement released by party members today, told Jordan News that he is opposed to the amendments “because they would change the political structure of the Kingdom in an undesirable way.” 

“The amendments will significantly weaken the power of our government and council of ministers. Jordanian ministers are usually held accountable for their policies and they can be questioned. I’m not sure that this will still be the case after these potential changes,” he said.

Another major concern outlined by Adaileh is that “the Legal Committee simply did open any dialogue channels with the major political parties of the Kingdom.” He said: “Sure, they included some legal scholars into their discussion. But what about parties like my party? Why we were not consulted? I am surprised at the speed at which the Legal Committee submitted their draft of the amendments to parliament.”

Adaileh refuted claims that the amendments aim to bring about the formation of parliamentary governments. “I disagree. How can these amendments possibly create such a system, if the same amendments do not allow parliamentarians to become ministers without them having to submit their resignation?” he said. 

The IAF, in collaboration with other national parties, is urging MPs to vote against these amendments, Adaileh revealed. “I am aware that a two-thirds majority vote in the Lower House is required in order for the amendments to pass. I am in favor of the idea of postponing the vote until we collectively figure out the consequences of such amendments. There is no need to rush. The events of today’s parliamentary discussion clearly show that people are concerned and divided,” he concluded.

Another signatory of the statement, Maysoon Darawsheh, who is also a member of the IAF Party, told Jordan News that she vehemently opposes the idea of passing these constitutional amendments, especially because they aim to add the word “Jordanian women” Article 6 of the Constitution. (See related story)

“This will simply open the door for gender-based discrimination. My party has expressed its concerns to the Royal Committee to Modernize of the Political System. We are concerned that this might consequently pave the way for two legal systems, one for women, and one for men, which seems inequitable,” Darawsheh said. “The Constitution since 1952 has championed the rights of all Jordanians, whether they are men or women. It is simply unnecessary to amend this crucial document in this way,” she added. 

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