Jordan premier: Door should be opened to Islamist rule

Jordan premier: Door should be opened to Islamist rule

Jordanian Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh Friday said that election laws specifically designed to prevent the country's Muslim Brotherhood from coming to power should be changed, dpa reported.

In an interview with the state-run television, Khasawneh, a former International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurist, advocated reforms that would allow the 2012 early elections to be run according to an election law similar to the 1989 system that produced an Islamic majority.

He strongly criticized current election laws under which the 2007 and 2010 elections were conducted, saying they produced "service deputies" rather than true legislators.

"I don't like the way Islamists were precluded from the political process," Khasawneh said. "I am against demonizing Islamists as if the objective of the state is to prevent them from access to power."

Amidst increasing pressure for political reforms in Jordan, the Islamic Action Front (AF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, has charged that the 2007 polls were "rigged" by the government of former prime minister Marouf Bakhit with the aim of crippling the Islamists' presence at the parliament.

The Brotherhood boycotted the 2010 elections, citing the failure of the government to provide assurances that the polling process would be fair.

Khasawneh vowed to go ahead with a "high-quality reform process" that involves, among other things, the creation of an independent panel for overseeing the ballot process for the first time in the country's history.

His government took up office in October after King Abdullah II fired two other cabinets in 2011 under pressure from several months of weekly demonstrations that found inspiration from the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

In October, King Abdullah pledged that Jordan would shift to a parliamentary system of government after the next general election, under which Parliament, not the king, would appoint the prime minister.

"We intend to apply this as of the next parliament which we want to be the product of a large democratic transformation process," the king said.

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