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Controversy in Jordan’s Parliament over Constitutional Amendments Expanding King’s Powers

Controversy in Jordan’s Parliament over Constitutional Amendments Expanding King’s Powers

Tuesday, 23 November, 2021 - 10:30
King of Jordan Abdullah II addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

Jordan’s Parliament witnessed a heated debate on Monday while holding the first session for reviewing proposed constitutional reforms submitted by the government last week. The reforms had already triggered widespread responses on social media and among political elites.

At the start of Monday’s session, which King Abdullah launched its activities last week, Jordanian deputies referred the draft constitutional amendment to the Legal Committee before electing its members, triggering far-reaching criticism.

Lawmakers criticized amendments to about 30 articles in the constitution, the most prominent of which was linked to expanding the monarch’s powers through forming a National Security Council.

Prominent deputies criticized the accountability and oversight mechanism of a council headed by the king and comprising the prime minister, the army chief, the directors of the security services, the ministers of foreign affairs and the interior, and two members appointed by the king.

They argued that the move creates a political body parallel to the legislative and executive powers in the country.

While Parliament Speaker Abdulkarim Dughmi tried to refer the draft amendment to the Legal Committee to prevent parliamentary interventions, deputies demanded more discussions.

In the face of the government’s referral of the draft constitutional amendment and granting it “urgency and priority,” the deputies chose to talk about the parties and elections bills.

They warned against tampering with the map of electoral districts at the expense of confiscating the rights of voter representation in extended geographical areas that may prejudice demographic equations due to merging electoral districts with high population densities.

For his part, Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh rejected accusations against the government on “overturning the constitution” or compromising the “objective unity” of the Jordanian constitution, which stipulates “the principle of associated authority and responsibility when it comes to the work of institutions.”

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