First Published: 2013-01-24

 

Jordanians pick new parliament amid row over voter turnout

 

IEC gives final turnout figure of 56.6 percent of registered electorate but Brotherhood says turnout is way below that figure due to fraud.

 

Middle East Online

By Musa Hattar – AMMAN

Final results not announced yet

Tribal leaders, pro-regime loyalists and independent businessmen looked set to sweep Jordan's parliamentary election that was shunned by Islamists, according to initial results released on Thursday.

The Independent Election Commission was to hold a news conference later in the day but said it was unclear if final results would be announced.

Wednesday's election, considered by King Abdullah II as a focal point of his reforms process, was boycotted by Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood, who said the monarch's measures fell short of true democratic change.

The IEC gave a final turnout figure of 56.6 percent of the registered electorate of 2.3 million but the Brotherhood said turnout was way below that figure due to fraud and vote-buying.

Initial results released by the IEC showed that tribal leaders, an assortment of pro-regime figures and independent businessmen were heading the field.

The figures also showed that independent candidate Maryam Luzi, an educationist, had won a seat outside of the quota system which reserves 15 seats for women in Jordan.

Another winner, according to the IEC, was Khalil Atieh, a long-time regime ally who enjoys good reputation. Standing in the capital Amman, he bagged the highest number of votes -- 19,280 -- in his constituency.

At least three candidates, who have been accused by the authorities of vote-buying, appeared to have won. Their cases are still before the courts and if found guilty, they face several years in jail.

The Muslim Brotherhood slammed the election.

"The turnout does not make any sense. They could have done a better job to make people believe," Zaki Bani Rshied, deputy leader of the Brotherhood said.

"We have closely monitored the electoral process. Vote buying and fake voter cards were very clear. We will prove that our boycott was the right decision."

The election commission insisted its figures were "accurate."

"The voting was slow in the morning, but in the afternoon, the turnout increased. Our figures are accurate and realistic," head of the commission Abul Ila Khatib said.

"We have nothing to hide. The election is being observed by Jordanians themselves and international monitors. We are not worried about the figures. We care about the integrity of the election."

King Abdullah II wants the election to pave the way for a parliamentary system of government.

He has said he plans for the first time to consult MPs before naming a premier, insisting that strong political parties are needed to support such system of government.

But the Islamists and the National Reform Front of former premier and intelligence chief Ahmad Obeidat, which also boycotted the poll, argue there is no real will to reform and insist that the king should not name prime ministers.

A total of 1,425 candidates, including around 140 former MPs and 191 women, contested the 150 seats in parliament's lower house.

 

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