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August 19 2022 4:47 AM ˚
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Government and people should be able to communicate

Omar Eltaweel is a Jordanian lawyer, managing partner at Taweel & Co. Law firm, and enthusiastic about spreading awareness for a civil society. (Photo: Jordan News)
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Jordan is, and has been, pursuing greater democratic accountability, transparency, and a stronger civil society.

In 2011, and again in 2021-2022, His Majesty King Abdullah II launched a political reform process that emphasizes the need for greater citizen participation in decision making and increased transparency and accountability at all levels of government. اضافة اعلان

Will this be enough?

The previous attempt, although passed by Parliament, failed to reflect positively on the daily lives of Jordanians, who are politically motivated, but frustrated about the economy.

The level of trust in government has eroded over the years due to the dire economic situation, the deteriorating standard of living of the majority of Jordanians, and, more recently, to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made things worse through lockdowns and government’s trial and error approach to deal with this unprecedented situation.

Citizens’ participation in decision making is limited, particularly among marginalized segments of the population, such as women, the youth, and persons with disabilities. Many Jordanians believe that the government does not sufficiently address their needs, or even knows how to talk to them.

The Jordanian society is composed mostly of Jordanian tribes and Jordanians of Palestinian origin, and these components are further segmented, mainly along religious and political regional lines. And now we witness the emergence of online societies.

Other than the King, Jordan lacks political leaders. Traditional tribal leaders who in the past had influence both with the Royal Palace and the people, no longer exist, political parties are a closed circle and religious leaders are under massive scrutiny both by authorities and the people.

The challenges these leaders face are traditional: a religious leader with political aspirations will not last long, a tribal leader with political aspirations will drown in the tsunami of services he needs to deliver to his constituents and may not have the time to lead or deliver any political message.

The solution is political parties with both religious and tribal members, who will be powerful enough to strengthen the civil society and convince their voters to become law-abiding citizens.

Our society cannot be influenced through individualism. We are a society that craves leaders that are respected and empowered by the Monarch, leaders of trusted backgrounds who can impact and lead social reform.

Civil society needs to strengthen political and civic engagement so that government institutions can effectively respond to the needs of all Jordanians. Civil society can represent and advocate for people’s needs, inspire young Jordanians to be more engaged in the governance of their country through civic engagement programs nationwide in schools and universities and other institutions, and not to be afraid to engage in political gatherings in the place of their choice, be it in mosques, youth clubs, their tribal headquarters (madafat) or any other venue they choose to use.

Without creating leaders that are knowledgeable about the Jordanian history and society, leaders who can speak the language of the people and not the language of foreign funders, it is difficult to have citizens engaged and having a sincere sense of ownership of public services and property.

We need our leaders to speak to us through familiar platforms, truthfully and showing concern. Men and women who speak the people’s language, understand their needs and are not afraid to tell the truth and still feel that they belong and are protected.

Omar Eltaweel is a Jordanian lawyer, managing partner at Taweel & Co. Law firm, and enthusiastic about spreading awareness for a civil society.

Read more Opinion and Analysis