King Abdullah_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Alexander Natruskin / Reuters)
Jordan's King Abdullah said he would adopt a series of constitutional amendments that will decrease his power and make government more accountable to the people. But local politicians and experts say the reforms may be too little and too late.
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"The wall of fear has fallen," Basel Burgan, an Amman pharmacist and social activist told The Media Line. "People are no longer scared to speak their minds. If His Majesty the King does not speed up the reform process, more and more people will take to the streets.”
On Sunday, a Constitutional Review Committee established by the King in April ceremonially submitted a document containing 42 revisions to the constitution of 1952. The proposed changes call for increasing Jordan's balance of power and widening civil liberties.
One amendment will empower the parliament to appoint the prime minister, rather than have him personally chosen by the King. At present, elections may be postponed indefinitely after a parliament is dissolved by the King. A constitutional amendment will limit the interim period to four months.
"There is an overwhelming consensus in Jordan that this move is
historically significant, strengthening the separation of power and
reducing the King's prerogatives," Assaf David, an expert on Jordan at
Jerusalem's Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, told The
Media Line. "The question is will it be enough. Three months ago it may
have been, but today there's a predominant sense of nihilism and
mistrust." Weekly demonstrations demanding political reform
erupted in Jordan in
January, but were milder that protest movements elsewhere in the Arab
world which demanded regime change. A sluggish response by the King to
the reform demands coupled by police violence against protesters has
pushed many Jordanians to mistrust any government initiative.
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Ten Jordanians were injured in a pro-reform protest in the southern city
of Karak on August 12. The unarmed youth demonstrators blamed the
government for unleashing pro-regime thugs who attacked them with sticks
and knives, independent news agency Ammon News reported.
"People have lost faith in the entire political system," Fatima Smadi, a
journalism professor and political columnist with the independent daily
, told The Media Line. "The regime talks about reforms and then sends thugs to disperse protesters."
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