Tour guides hold sit-in Friday to protest elections cancelation

Tour guides hold sit-in Friday to protest elections cancelation
Caption: Tour guides sit-in Friday in front of Petra visitors’ center protesting election cancelation (Photo: Handout from the Tour Guides Association)

AMMAN — Tour guides held a sit-in Friday at the Petra Visitors Center in the old city to protest the cancelation of the Tour Guides Association's elections on Thursday.اضافة اعلان

The decision to cancel the elections was taken by Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities' personnel who oversaw the process and as a result of crowding at the election center and associated health risks.

The guides blamed the ensuing chaos on the organizers of the elections, arguing that the hall chosen as a venue for the elections at a hotel in Amman was too small. The hall’s capacity did not exceed 200 people, while 500 were present out of the 1,400 members of the association, according to Hani Massaadeh, one of the 22 candidates running for a seat on the association council.

Massaadeh blamed the ministry for this failure in completing the elections, insisting that everyone in the hall was wearing a mask, in the presence of tourism police and public safety monitors, and that no one was ticketed for any violations.

"They should have prevented crowding and organized the ballot casting with better procedures," Massaadeh told Jordan News. “The ministry's involvement was only a source of chaos,” he added.

The association secretary and a candidate for the new council, Osama Al-Atoum, also expressed disappointment at the outcome. "We just felt resentment when they called off the polls. We had been eagerly waiting for these elections and then they decided to cancel the whole process citing health risks, at a time when festivals and other events are being held without interruption despite lack of commitment to health protocols."

Protestors said that the timing of the elections in the aftermath of a financial crises brought about by COVID-19 was very important to streamline the sector and kick off a recovery process. Osama Saad, a protestor, told Jordan News that the process should have been overseen by the secretary of the current council instead of the ad hoc committee appointed by the ministry.

In a statement issued late Saturday, the ministry insisted that the health protocol was breached, adding that the commotion started when some members of the general assembly protested loudly against the financial and administrative report presented to the assembly by the outgoing council.

The ministry also accused some participants of verbally attacking the head of the committee organizing the event and members of the association's council. A new date will be set for the elections by the association, the statement concluded, advising full commitment to the health protocols and other regulations.

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