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Partial recount demanded as Jordanian election protests continue

Arab World Materials 26 January 2013 19:26
Candidates on Saturday demanded a partial recount in recent Jordanian parliamentary elections, even as protests regarding the contested results rumbled on.
Partial recount demanded as Jordanian election protests continue

Candidates on Saturday demanded a partial recount in recent Jordanian parliamentary elections, even as protests regarding the contested results rumbled on, DPA reported.

Hundreds of supporters of defeated candidates rallied in Amman and Mafraq, marking the third straight day of protests over the results of the January 23 polls.

Some 56.7 per cent of Jordan's 3 million eligible voters cast ballots in Wednesday's polls, which were declared by international observers to be free and fair, with few irregularities.

However several candidates cried foul after a late surge in voting tipped the balance in several heated contests and after final election results on Thursday sealed some candidates' victories with margins in the single digits.

In a midday demonstration on Saturday, some 300 supporters of former legislator Nawaf Khawaldeh rallied in front of the country's independent electoral commission, calling for a recount after final results overturned what they claimed was an "assured victory."

Meanwhile, some 300 supporters of defeated candidates gathered in the northern city of Mafraq, accusing Amman of turning a blind eye to "voter fraud."

The rallies came as a local civil coalition for monitoring the elections, RASID, issued a report alleging irregularities in the counting of ballots in 20 of the 61 national lists that fielded candidates in the polls.

In the report, RASID also urged the electoral commission to embark on a partial recount.

As of late Saturday, election officials had yet to come to a decision regarding a recount.

Violent protests erupted within hours of Amman's announcement of electoral results on Thursday, with rioters setting fire to schools, government buildings and banks in several cities across the country.

Smaller-scale protests continued in several cities on Friday, during which a group of supporters of a defeated candidate attempted to storm the home of Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour. Security forces were able to disperse the rioters, with no injuries reported.

More than 1,400 candidates stood for elections for the country's 150-seat Lower House of Parliament, which marked Jordan's first polls since the outbreak of the Arab Spring.

Tribalists and independent regime loyalists dominated the polls, which were boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan's largest political force, in a protest about the country's electoral law.

Some 11,000 local and international observers monitored the polls, with several international monitors praising Jordan for "marked improvements" on previous polls.

The first meeting of Jordan's 17th parliament is set for early February.

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