Muslim Brotherhood unites in opposition to election in Jordan

Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 01:00

The Muslim movement opposes electoral law that favours Jordanians of tribal origin, writes MICHAEL JANSEN

ALI ABU Sukkar is optimistic about the future role of the Muslim Brotherhood in political life across the Arab world.

Abu Sukkar, who heads the Shura (Consultative) Council of Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, the movement’s political arm and Jordan’s main opposition party, argues that Egypt’s first freely elected president Muhammad Morsi, a senior brotherhood figure, has accomplished a great deal despite stiff opposition.

“The success of the Egyptian government will affect all Arab governments. When the Arab people feel elected governments can rule . . . they will accept elected governments,” he says.

Commenting on the October 5th brotherhood protest in central Amman, Abu Sukkar says: “The demonstration was not intended to embarrass the government but to put forward our demands in a clear way.”

A portrait of King Abdullah hangs on the wall near Abu Sukkar’s desk in the front’s office, proclaiming that the party is loyal opposition and reaffirming the brotherhood’s long-standing connections with the monarchy.

“After 20 months of the justice campaign and stating these demands, the government still does not understand our position. They downgraded our demands and regarded us as a minority.”.

The organisation’s demands include constitutional and electoral law reform, parliamentary government and a lower house comprised of representatives of parties with programmes (as opposed to individuals). The prime minister should be chosen by parliament; and members of the lower house should be independent of the government and have the power to deal with corruption.

While he says the front does not call for a constitutional monarchy, the brotherhood is split into two camps on this issue.

The movement is, however, united on the need to boycott the assembly election due late this year or early in 2013 because the electoral law favours Jordanians of tribal origin and discriminates against citizens of Palestinian background. Front participation would “give the law credibility,” he says.

“We took part in elections many times” but this did not “give more freedom to the people. The front and leftist groups who agree with it about the electoral law are not only boycotting but refusing to register to vote.

“Civil society is strong enough and can manage to achieve a lot” in spite of “strong barriers” to its work created by the government, he says. He cites the example of the government’s decision to channel all aid to the 30,000 Syrian refugees living in al-Zaatari camp near the Syrian border through the official Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation.

He warns that if there is no “genuine process of reform, neither the government nor the Islamic movement will be able to control the people.”