Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Setback for Jordan's Islamic front

Candidates loyal to the monarchy have defeated Jordan's Islamist opposition in parliamentary elections, according to unofficial results. he Islamic Action Front (IAF), the main opposition party and the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, which fielded 22 candidates, won only seven seats, down from 17 in the outgoing parliament.

The preliminary returns from Tuesday’s election indicated that supporters of King Abdullah, mainly tribal Bedouin and centrist politicians, had secured a majority of the seats in the 110-member chamber of deputies.

Their victory was expected and attributed to the strong influence of family and tribal links on voting in Jordan.

Hayet al-Musaymeh, an IAF female candidate, who held a seat in the previous parliament, also lost her bid in the elections.

Instead, seven other women, both liberals and conservatives who ran as independents, won seats.

Official figures are expected to be announced at an interior ministry press conference on Wednesday.

Fraud allegations

A spokesman for the IAF had told Al Jazeera that voting irregularities were found across the country.

Al Jazeera's David Chater said the whole electoral system was geared towards maintaining the king's power base in parliament and whoever got elected, that support for the monarchy would remain.

He said the IAF, despite its complaints, had in fact cut a deal with Abdullah, fielding the 22 candidates for the 110 seats.

New PM

Meanwhile, Abdullah is expected to appoint a new prime minister "in the coming few days" to form a government after the elections, officials said.

Nader Dahabi, the head of a special economic zone in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, is expected to replace Marouf Bakhit, who had served as prime minister since November 2005, officials told AFP news agency.

Born in 1946, Dahabi served as transport minister from 2001 to 2003.

He had headed the Royal Jordanian airlines from 1994 to 2001.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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