Ahead with reform

Khalid Dalal
Khalid Dalal (Photo: Jordan News)
Jordan is going through a decisive phase of its history, as a Royal Committee was formed last week and entrusted with modernizing the political system and reinvigorating political life. That's not only good, but rather great news for all of us.اضافة اعلان

As indicated in the Royal Letter forming the 92-member committee, "its mission will be to put forward new draft election and political parties laws; look into the necessary constitutional amendments connected to the two laws and the mechanisms of parliamentary work; and provide recommendations on developing legislation regulating local administration, expanding participation in decision-making, and creating a political and legislative environment conducive to the active engagement of youth and women in public life."

It goes without saying that the success of this mission will pave the way for other reforms to take shape in the economic, administrative, and social realms, among others. In other words, political reform is the threshold into an overhaul of the way the country is run, and the way decision-making and implementation is made.

A couple of lines in the letter His Majesty King Abdullah has sent to the head of the committee, former premier and incumbent senator, Samir Al-Rifai, decisively send a much-needed assuring message to all citizens that the King guarantees "before all Jordanians that my government will adopt the outcomes of the committee’s work, and will submit them to Parliament immediately without any interventions or attempts to alter or influence them."

Also, the King underscored in the letter, that the Seven Discussion Papers he put forth for public debate years ago are only there to offer guidelines to the panel, contributing to "mapping out the future of our country and people". This signifies that the committee members, who represent a wide-range of political, intellectual, and social spectra in the country, have full independence to set the parameters of the process and come up with a consensus over what Jordanians need and aspire to.

But this mission can be more inclusive and more credible if the opportunity is given to the people to contribute their input in the process through a designated website, for example, to receive suggestions. This can be done in parallel with another mechanism, which would be to assign the expected emerging sub-committees to meet with people from across the board, and benefit from what they have to say about the future they want and what reform means to them.

Such engagement of the public in the process automatically means that the youth will have a say in an enterprise that is mainly tailored to empower them. The King said it loud and clear that "it is of importance to us that your committee pay attention to the role of youth and explore means of motivating their engagement in partisan and parliamentary life."

The same applies to women, as the reform would be incomplete unless the new laws and proposed changes are expected to empower their active engagement in public life in deeds, not only in words.

The Royal Committee is also expected to benefit from similar experiences carried out successfully by other countries. After all, history is a great teacher if we learn the lessons well.

With this diversity in the makeup of the reform panel, we expect heated discussions in order to reach as much consensus as we can because Jordanians are watching and because this opportunity is make-or-break for them.

There are great expectations involved and a lot of hard work to be done to convince people that past failures to realize Jordanians' big hopes for genuine reform will not repeat themselves this time.

In fact, we are remaking history here. Let's be up to expectations, and let's not miss the chance to build a better future for all of us.

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