AMMAN (AFP) – The powerful Islamist opposition has decided to boycott Jordan’s November 9 general election, citing lack of government guarantees to ensure a fair poll, its leaders said on Friday.
“The shura (advisory) council recommended on Thursday that the Islamic Action Front (IAF) boycott the election because the government has failed to provide sufficient guarantees to make sure the polls will be fair and transparent,” IAF official Hammam Said told AFP.
“There will be no independent body to monitor the election and we are not optimistic that the government will carry out some reforms and manage the process properly.”
The IAF said the council’s decision was “binding.”
“The party is likely to approve the decision on Saturday. It’s binding anyway because 90 percent of the party’s members are members of the shura,” former IAF secretary general Zaki Bani Rsheid told AFP.
“After fraud and vote buying in municipal and parliamentary elections in 2007, boycotting this year’s poll is the right thing to do,” said Bani Rsheid, a senior member of the IAF’s executive committee.
The Islamists have complained that a new electoral law which Jordan endorsed in May was “targeting” them, after maintaining a controversial 1998 one-person-one-vote system, which critics say empowers pro-government hopefuls.
Critics say the new law reduces seats in urban areas, which are considered Islamist strongholds, and increases representation in rural areas seen as dominated by pro-government loyals.
Only six of the 22 candidates fielded by the IAF were victorious in Jordan’s last general election in November 2007, and the party complained at the time of widespread vote-buying and fraud in some constituencies.
King Abdullah II dissolved parliament in November 2009 and called an election two years early, after several months of press criticism of the ineffectiveness and, in some cases, alleged corruption of MPs.
It was the second time the king has dissolved parliament early since he rose to the throne in 1999.