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French Version

Election fever in Amman gets an early start

JORDAN (Star) - Preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections are already in full swing. The date for elections in the Lower House is being fixed for either September or October. For months now the election date has caused much speculation in all corners of Jordanian society.

Potential parliamentary candidates are keen to attend any social gathering these days to show support and readiness to be at the service of their voters. Meanwhile, the Islamists and the other centrist parties expected to take part in the elections haven't reached a final decision. Minister of State for Political Affairs and Minister of Information Mohammad Affash Al Adwan told reporters on 12 February he "expects the parliamentary elections to be held next September or October." The Minister's statement came following a cabinet session.
In the meeting, Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb explained to his ministerial team the positive results of the recent tour made by His Majesty King Abdallah to the United States. Abul Ragheb told the ministers the King emphasized the need to activate the American role in ending the violence on the Palestinian territories and of the necessity to resume peace negotiations.

Al Adwan noted 2.100 million citizens got their magnetic identity cards, that is 85 percent of the people who have the right to vote. "The period given to get new IDs will expire at the end of this month," Al Adwan pointed out. Within the last month or so, offices of the Civil Status Dept in the country have been inundated with people rushing to get their new IDs before the end of the month.

In turn, these offices employed more workers to deal with the rush to beat the February deadline. "According to the civil status laws, anyone who reaches the age of 18 and doesn't get an ID will pay a fine of between JD 50 to JD 100," a legal source at the Civil Status Dept said. Meanwhile, Islamists have not yet decided whether or not they will participate in the forthcoming elections. The new general secretary of the Islamic Action Front (IAF) said no decision has been made until now.

"The decision to participate will be determined through a poll of all members of the IAF and Muslim Brotherhood," said Dr Abdel Latif Arabeyat, president of the Shura Council of the IAF. Arabeyat expects a final decision to be taken in one month.

Dr Khaldoun Al Nasser, spokesman for the National Constitutional Party (NCP) pointed out the statement of the Minister is only speculation. "We have to wait for a Royal Decree to determine the exact date of the elections," Al Nasser told The Star. The NCP along with another five political parties, recently formed a National Council for Coordination between Political Parties of the Center. "We urge every citizen to take part in the legislative elections, yet, our participation is conditioned to the changes of the current electoral law," Al Nasser added.

On the popular front, public gatherings between groups of citizens and potential candidates are taking place on a regular basis. In a district in Amman recently, one of the potential candidates met with a large crowd to talk about their problems and aspirations.

"We listen to promises from many potential candidates, our choices seem to be vast, but we haven't decided who to elect till now," said Hisham Khalil, one of the people who attends regular meetings with such candidates. "I wonder if they are going to keep their promises when they become members of the Lower House.

Amman,16February2002
Ibtisam Awadat
The Star


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