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Jordan: early elections for the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] Group

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Election activity in Jordan in the month of February was characterized with the following: calls for the review of the electoral law and its regulations to achieve more balance and justice among the various social segments, as was indicated by the parties demanding the review. Jordan was also making preparations for the elections of the Jordanian Press Association [JPA] which will be held in the last week of April 2008 as well as the early elections of the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] Group.

 

The electoral law:

The final statement of the Madrid Club Conference called for the “review of the electoral law and its regulations in the manner that would achieve a more balanced and fairer representation of the various social segments and political forces in the Jordanian community by “entrusting the process of watching all phases of elections to an independent commission that can muster the effective legal and procedural staffers and the necessary financial resources that are needed for its functions. The call made by the Ministry of Political Development announced by Minister Kamal Nasir to hold a national conference to discuss the electoral law to reach a compromise modern law did not receive the welcome which similar calls used to be received two years or more ago.

Elections of the Jordanian Press Association [JPA):

Most of the names that will run for the post of President of the Jordanian Press Association [JPA] were declared in the last days of February 2008. Competing for the post are Samih al-Ma’aytah of the newspaper al-Ghad and Usamah al-Sharif of the newspaper ad-Dustur. However, this does not mean that there would not be new names which would want to nominate themselves whether for the post of president of the JPA or the JPA Council. The elections are due to be held in the last week of April 2008 which coincides with the date of convening the meeting of the General Assembly of the JPA. The electoral battle will be fought for the election of a new president and a new council for the JPA for the three next years.

The competitors:

Four major candidates are running in this electoral battle. They are the Editor-In-Chief of the semi-official newspaper al-Ra’y, Abd-al-Wahhab Ghuzaylat; the General Manager of the semi-official newspaper ad-Dustur, Sayf al-Sharif; writer at the independent newspaper al-Ghad, Samih al-Ma’aytah; and former Director General of the official Jordanian News Agency, Petra, Umar Abandah. The JPA consists of 735 members.

The election platforms:

A new trend has appeared, namely, voting in the JPA elections should not be dependent on personal relationships and friendships, but on the basis of the platforms of the candidates that should seek to improve the environment of the press work professionally and financially. On top of the demands of the press community from their new JPA Council is to improve the livelihood conditions of the media workers, particularly in light of the skyrocketing prices in Jordan. They suggested that the JPA should have a system of a salary scale which would determine the salaries of the press workers employed by the press establishments and the various mass media.

The electoral system:

Media workers have proposed that the press community adopt in its upcoming elections the system of lists which is commonly used by the other professional associations. They did not make the formation of these lists dependent on specific political trends, but said that the lists should compete with one another for offering the best services to the press community.

Criticisms:

Criticism was made of the media workers who viewed the JPA elections as their own property. Young journalists were requested not to negatively view the elections of their JPA, but should play a role in these elections. The trend to hold the elections on the basis of professional lists and the formation of alliances were welcomed. Caution was made that votes should not be divided among the major media institutions. Voices were raised calling on the journalists to forge lists when they run for elections and that they should run according to an election platform, which should not necessarily be political, but which should be based on programs aimed at improving the conditions of the media workers.

Election of the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood Group in Jordan:

The rank and file in a number of branches has begun to elect their representatives to the Shura Council, which is the highest leadership body of the Islamic movement. The elections were held in a number of branches of the Group in the capital city of Amman, which has the largest number of the branches. Elections were also held in one of the three branches of the Zarqa Governorate, which is allocated three members of the Shura Council. Informed sources say that the total number of the Shura Council members is 55 members. Most of them are elected, while only five Shura Council members are appointed.

The elections are viewed as the most internal elections in the history of the movement for at least the last 20 years, all the more so because they are early elections that were decided all of a sudden last November 2007 after the former Shura Council dissolved itself in the aftermath of the harsh loss in the recent parliamentary elections.

The results:

The results of the internal supplementary elections were announced on 24 February with the winning of the Secretary General of the Islamic Action Front Party, Zaki Bani Irsheid, as member of the upcoming Shura Council. He will represent the El Hussein Branch area. Meanwhile, Deputy Controller General of the Muslim Brotherhood Group, Jamil Abu Bakr, won the seat of the El Tajj Branch area.