Jordan changes constitution to give King more power

King Abdullah granted power to make key appointments in move opponents say will give those in the jobs impunity.

    King Abdullah II was granted more power in a previous amendment in 2015 [Getty Images/Sean Gallu]
    King Abdullah II was granted more power in a previous amendment in 2015 [Getty Images/Sean Gallu]

    Jordan's parliament has passed several constitutional amendments giving King Abdullah more powers, including the right to appoint the head of a top court and members of the senate. 

    The King was also granted the power to appoint his own regent and crown prince.

    State-owned news agency Petra said the amendments were passed with 123 votes in favour out of 142. The parliament has a total of 150 MPs.

    The changes gave the King the right to make key appointments by royal decree without any nomination process by the government or signatures from the Council of Ministers.

    In 2015, the parliament passed a previous constitutional amendment that gave Abdullah the power to hire and fire the heads of the army and the intelligence services.

    Before that amendment, and those on Thursday, he had only power to directly appoint the prime minister.

    Petra said the amendments "aim to strengthen the principle of separation of powers, boost the independence of the Constitutional Court and the judiciary and enhance the neutrality of the gendarmerie in politics."

    Opponents, though, say the move is a rollback of gains made during the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, when Abdullah promised reforms that would eventually limit his powers, not increase them.  

    "With these amendments now in place, Jordan is moving toward an absolute monarchy as opposed to a constitutional monarchy whereby the King would rule through a legally accountable executive branch," Abdel Karim al Dughmi, one of the MPs who voted against the amendments, told Al Jazeera.   

    "Under the new rules, those who will be appointed by the King, who enjoys constitutional protection and legal immunity, would be by extension above the law."

    Follow Ali Younes on Twitter @ali_reports 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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