Jordanian Islamists to boycott national vote

Election law favors voters in rural areas, Muslim Brotherhood says.

Jordan King Abdullah 311 (photo credit: AP)
Jordan King Abdullah 311
(photo credit: AP)
The Muslim Brotherhood will not take part in Jordan’s general elections later this year, the movement announced on Sunday.
The Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, said the likelihood of electoral fraud made it impossible for the group to take part in the November 9 vote.
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“The decision was adopted by a large majority in the party following consultations and a democratic vote,” said Sheikh Hamza Mansour, spokesman for the Islamic Action Front. “The army received instructions by the government to vote for certain candidates.”
“The last elections in 2007 were filled with irregularities and fraud,” he said. “The party will reconsider its position if the government can provide guarantees for clean elections.
“The government has emptied the term democracy from its meaning” Mansour continued, arguing that the Jordanian parliament has become a lame duck.
Christoph Wilcke, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said there had been claims of election fraud.
“In the previous elections there were serious allegations of elections fraud and many people here in Jordan think that the new election law is not going to provide a clear representation in parliament,” Wilcke said.
A new election law came in to effect in May. The Islamic Action Front argues the law discriminates against them as it favors voters in rural areas, which traditionally vote for pro-government candidates, as opposed to the cities where they have their strongest support.
Jordan’s rural areas are mostly Beduin, while the cities are heavily Palestinian.
The electorate for the lower house of parliament, known as the Chamber of Deputies, is divided into 12 constituencies.
Some candidates from rural areas may only represent 3,000 voters, while candidates from Amman may represent 90,000 voters.
This had led the Islamic Action Front to call for a one man, one vote system, abolishing the constituencies.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan has established a social network where it provides services it says are being neglected by the governments.
The upper house of the parliament, the Senate, has 55 members, all appointed by the king. When elections were held in 2007, six of the 22 candidates for the Islamic Action Front were elected, compared to 17 in 2003.
The upcoming elections will be held after King Abdullah dissolved the parliament in November 2009 following complaints of widespread inefficiency and allegations of corruption among some members of parliament.
The Chamber of Deputies has 80 elected members representing 12 constituencies.
Of the 80 members, 71 must be Muslim, nine Christians and three Circassian/Chechen. Six seats are specially for women.