Amman (dpa) – Voting was repeated in six of Amman’s 27 districts on Wednesday due to low turnout, as local newspapers reported the death of at least one person in acts of violence that occurred during the polling process in some of the country’s 94 municipalities on Tuesday.
Local press also urged the government to prove that it was not involved in rigging practices that were cited by the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the country’s largest political party, as a pretext for pulling its 36 candidates from the municipal elections five hours after the voting started.
The IAF, the political arm of the influential Muslim Brotherhood movement, charged that the government used army personnel for duplicate voting, saying buses carrying plain-clothed soldiers were moving from one polling station to another, with the same people casting ballots in more than one centre.
The pro-government newspaper, Jordan Times, published remarks by a human rights activist supportive of the IAF charges.
“I have visited several polling stations in Irbid and noticed flagrant attempts by the government to rig the vote. They are not even bothering to hide it,” Assem Omari from the Observatory on Man and Environment, a human rights centre, told the paper.
The same paper quoted another person as saying “dozens of buses carrying plain-clothed army officers were moving between polling stations and voting several times.”
The IAF Secretary General Zaki Bani Ershaid pushed the municipal elections into turmoil Tuesday when he charged that the government had “committed a democratic massacre” by rigging the votes. He said that his party was “contemplating the idea of pulling out from the forthcoming parliamentary elections” tentatively set for mid-November.
But Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit described the Islamists’ withdrawal as “illegal” and categorically denied accusations of vote rigging. He said the pullout decision was inconsistent with due procedure, because any withdrawal had to be done a day before the elections, according to the law.
Editorialists urged the government on Wednesday to prove that it was not involved in vote rigging. “It is insufficient for the government to say the Islamists’ allegations are ‘insincere’. It has to prove it,” the independent daily Alghad said in an editorial. “The government’s duty is to run fair elections and the Islamists and their rivals have the right to compete for the polls without being exposed to any political pressures or illegal practices,” the paper added.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs Nader Thuhairat said that except for the six Amman districts where voting was repeated on Wednesday, the turnout all over the kingdom reached 50 plus 1 percentage required to count the votes in all of the country’s 94 municipalities.
Result declared so far indicated that tribalism and family ties dominated voters’ choice in the country’s municipal elections, informed sources said.