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Loyalists sweep Jordan parliamentary vote

AMMAN: Tribal leaders, pro-regime loyalists and independent businessmen swept Jordan’s parliamentary election that was shunned by Muslim Brotherhood, according to preliminary results released yesterday.
Analysts say the new Parliament will now be dominated by loyalists, who will resist pressure for real political reform.
The Arab Spring that began two years ago and toppled four regimes across the region also sparked regular protests in Jordan, where youths and religious groups have been demanding sweeping reforms.
Their protests have become increasingly vocal and, during deadly November rioting over a sharp hike in fuel prices, there were unprecedented calls for the king to step down.
Abdallah II, whose throne is not seriously thought to be under threat, had touted Wednesday’s election as a focal point for his reforms, which he said should pave the way for parliamentary government.
Among his reforms, he said that he plans for the first time to consult MPs before naming a premier, who should in turn then consult with MPs before forming a Cabinet.
But Brotherhood boycotted the election, saying the monarch’s measures fell far short of true democratic change and that he should not have any say at all in naming a prime minister. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) put the final turnout at 56.6 percent of the registered electorate of 2.3 million, but the Brotherhood disputed this figure, saying there had been widespread fraud and vote-buying.
IEC officials said some data entry glitches are delaying the announcement of final results.
“Also there is a problem related to one ballot box that we are trying to solve, before announcing final results,” IEC spokesman Hussein Bani told reporters without elaborating. The results showed that independent candidate Maryam Luzi, an educationist, had won a seat outside the quota system reserving 15 seats for women.
Also among the winners are two women from Amman, Abla Abu Elbeh, secretary general of the leftist Jordanian People’s Democratic Party, and Rula Hroub, an outspoken journalist.
Khalil Atieh, a long-time regime ally, emerged the winner in an Amman constituency, while reformist researcher Mustapha Hamarenh secured a seat for his mainly Christian city of Madaba, near the capital.
At least three candidates, who have been accused by the authorities of vote-buying, won seats. Their cases are still before the courts and if found guilty, they will lose their seats and face several years in jail.

“The turnout does not make any sense. They could have done a better job to make people believe,” Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of the Brotherhood told AFP.
The IEC insisted that its figures were accurate.
Mohammad Abu Rumman, researcher at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies, agreed that the turnout had been good.

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