Oman- After about 60 hours of parliamentary discussions over 9 sessions that lasted a week, the Jordanian House of Representatives approved 30 new amendments to the constitution sent by the government, based on the outcomes of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System.
104 deputies voted in favor of the constitutional amendments, and 8 deputies rejected them, out of the 112 deputies who attended the voting session.
The government described the constitutional amendments as a “road map” for the new political phase that the kingdom will witness, a phase in which the rules of the game are different from the previous ones, titled governments formed based on a partisan majority in Parliament.
While the deputies saw that part of these amendments constituted a real decline in the level of democracy in Jordan, and a withdrawal of the powers of the executive authority, through the establishment of a National Security Council that would withdraw the powers of the executive authority in foreign policy and internal files, and put them in the hands of the king.
The Jordanian House of Representatives had begun discussing the constitutional amendments on Tuesday before last, but a state of chaos and quarrel between the deputies led to the adjournment of the session, and the parliament resumed its sessions since last Sunday and over a week to finish it on Thursday evening.
Expansion and withdrawal of powers
In detail, the House of Representatives approved 26 government amendments to the constitution, while rejecting 4 amendments. The amendments included a number of axes, most notably the expansion of the powers of King Abdullah II in appointing the director of public security, the judge of judges, the head of the Sharia Judicial Council, the general mufti, the chief of the royal court, the minister of court and the king’s advisors, and the acceptance of their resignations unilaterally and without the signature of the prime minister or the ministers concerned with this.
In addition to the establishment of a National Security Council, the King calls for its convening and endorses its decisions, setting the term of the parliament’s presidency for one year instead of two years, approving mechanisms to dismiss the Speaker of Parliament and accepting his resignation, lowering the age of candidate for parliamentary elections from 30 to 25 years, empowering women and people with disabilities, and preventing Combining the Ministry and the membership of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Jordanian government added a new article to the committee’s outputs to the constitution, which provided for the establishment of the National Security and Foreign Policy Council, which would handle issues related to the Kingdom’s defense, national security and foreign policy. It is chaired by the King, and includes the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Interior, the Army Commander and the Director of Intelligence, and two members appointed by the King.
The new council is in charge of all issues related to the defense of the Kingdom, national security and foreign policy, coordination between the various state institutions in the decision-making process, taking sovereign decisions, building higher strategies between the state’s political and security arms, and preserving the neutrality of security and military institutions from any political interactions that may be reflected. on its performance.
However, the House of Representatives amended the government proposal to change the name of the council to be the “National Security Council,” and canceled the text that the king should be the head of this council because “the king is the head of the state and the head of the executive authority,” according to the committee’s decision, and the council meets in case of necessity, and at the invitation of the Jordanian monarch. or whoever delegates it.
the independence of the parties
The Rapporteur of the Constitutional Amendments Committee in the Royal Committee, Laith Nasraween, believes that the amendments achieve the independence of the body supervising the work of political parties, as it moves from the executive authority represented by the Ministry of Political Development to the Independent Election Commission.
He told Al Jazeera Net that the amendments constitutionally empower women and youth, so that the state commits to empowering them and establishing equality before the law, as a new paragraph was introduced for Article Six of the Constitution and stipulates that the state guarantees the empowerment of women and their work to play a higher role in building society, and in a manner that guarantees equal opportunities on the basis of Justice and equity and protection from all forms of violence and discrimination.
The amendments also included “constitution of higher principles and values such as citizenship and respect for the rule of law, and the dissemination of a culture of tolerance,” according to the committee.
The former Jordanian Minister of Information, Muhammad al-Momani, believes that the National Security Council would remove from the shoulders of the upcoming partisan governments all unpopular decisions, but these decisions are necessary for Jordanian national security and foreign policy, and here lies the importance of this Council.
Momani told Al Jazeera Net that “the council constitutes a real guarantee to move forward in the stage of partisan governments, and establishes many of the understandings and coordination that parliamentary governments emanating from the partisan majority need.”
According to the provisions of Article 40 of the Constitution, the King exercises his powers through the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, who assigns him to manage the affairs of the Kingdom, and he is protected from all liability and responsibility.
Fear of parties
On the other hand, political analyst Munther Al-Hawarat believes that the constitutional amendments came to limit the powers of the upcoming executive authority and limit its general jurisdiction, especially when talking about the establishment of a National Security Council that deals with foreign policy, security and internal files.
He adds the dialogues to Al Jazeera Net that intimidating the emerging political parties from interfering in the security and institutional structures, and dyeing them with a partisan character and interfering with political work, is a word that “is incompatible with democracy and freedom of choice.”
He believes that questioning the local political forces means a firm conviction that civil society is incapable of releasing its institutions that lead the country, which indicates that this step is a formality.
Among those who read in these amendments a qualitative leap that brings partisan governments of the people’s choice, and those who see that the powers of those governments have been confiscated from them before they assume the reins of responsibility, the Council approved the amendments, pending discussion of the electoral laws and the reliable political parties for political reform.