Jordan Islamists seek to emulate Mursi’s victory

Muslim Brotherhood hopes for success despite political set back, official says reform is only a matter of time.

July 1, 2012 10:06
4 minute read.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Amman [file]

Muslim Brotherhood supporters at rally in Amman 370 (R). (photo credit: Muhammad Hamed / Reuters)


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AMMAN, Jordan -- The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan celebrated the election of Islamist Mohamed Mursi as president of Egypt as if he was one of their own, opening their offices across the kingdom to hand out sweets and gloat before shocked Jordanian authorities.

“What we saw in Egypt clearly shows that reform is coming. It is a matter of time,” said Ali Abul Sukkar, president of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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“The victory of Mursi in the elections is a great boost for the Islamist movement and a wake up call for the regime to implement reforms as promised,” said Abul Sukkar.

Minutes after it was confirmed that a fellow Islamist Mursi won, the leadership of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement calling on supporters to join their celebrations spilling out of its 24 branches across the kingdom.

King Abdullah II sent a cable of congratulations to Mursi, stressing Jordan’s commitment to continued efforts to boost its relations with Egypt in all domains and in a manner that helps activate Arab and Islamic cooperation, a Royal Court statement said.

Diplomacy aside, analysts say the Islamist movement will be emboldened by the victory of a major ally and could harden its stance with authorities over demanded reforms. At the moment, the Islamist movement is set to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections later this year.

While authorities are still assessing the impact of Mursi’s victory on the local scene, some Jordanian officials have already voiced concerns that the local Muslim Brotherhood movement could be seeking to emulate their Egyptian counterparts.

To the dismay of opposition parties including the Islamist movement, the parliament on Sunday endorsed a controversial election reform bill that has been described as backward and anti-reform legislation and an effort to kick start the long overdue reforms promised since the Arab Spring swept the region 16 months ago.

The bill kept the balance of power in the hands of conservative tribes loyal to the regime and made sure political parties have minor, if any, representation in the legislature.

Opposition parties say the amendments will continue to enable pro-regime candidates from tribal dominated areas and influential businessmen to win at the expense of party candidates.

Zaki Bani Rashid, senior leader from the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, said his group is planning to create a shadow government and a shadow parliament after having given up on reform promises.

But Islamist leaders say the government is delaying the inevitable.

In Jordan’s first free elections since 1989, the Islamist movement swept parliament seats and enjoyed a slight majority, before authorities amended the law in favor of Beduin tribes and loyalists.

King Abdullah is expected to sign a royal decree in coming days to officially pass the bill as law, paving the way for elections by the end of the year.

Analyst Mohammad Abu Rumman believes that authorities are adamant to maintain their grip on the country without giving concessions.

“It is too late, we missed the train. We wished results of the Egyptian elections were announced before the elections law was endorsed,” said Abu Rumman, warning against what he believes are inevitable and dire consequences to the political current political stand off between the regime and the Islamists movement.

“Are we going to rectify the situation or wait to pay a heavy price?” Abu Rumman pondered.

Hamzah Mansour, secretary general of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, sent a veiled message to authorities, saying his group was headed for victory in the style of its larger Egyptian sister.

"I think victory is a temptation for another victory and encourages success. Victory of the Egyptian people will have an impact on the governments of all of the Arab and Islamic countries. They must reconsider their policies and respect the will of their people," Mansour said.

Mursi defeated former general Ahmed Shafiq in a run-off last weekend by a convincing 3.5 percentage points, or nearly 900,000 votes, taking 51.7 percent of the total, officials said, ending a week of disputes over the count which left nerves frayed over who was going to be named the leader of the Arab world’s most populous nation.

Shafiq has since reportedly fled Egypt for a Gulf state.

Mursi succeeds Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown 16 months ago after a popular uprising. The military council which has ruled the biggest Arab nation since then has this month curbed the powers of the presidency, meaning the head of state will have to work closely with the army on a planned democratic constitution.

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