Jordan elects new parliament

Opposition hints at rigging in poll where tribal loyalties are expected to dominate.

    Due to the electoral system in Jordan, the IAF is expected to make little ground [EPA]
    The majority of people are expected to vote according to family and tribal loyalty, meaning that independent candidates, mainly representatives of tribes and families loyal to the royal family, are expected to sweep the polls.
     
    Tribal loyalty
     
    The IAF, which had threatened to boycott the polls over claims that municipal elections in July were rigged, is fielding 22 candidates in total.

    In video


    David Chater reports from Zarqa on opposition hopes

    Its member of parliament, who won his seat in the last elections, is unable to stand because he was imprisoned after he attended the funeral of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who came from Zarqa.
     
    In some of Jordan's largest tribes, several candidates from the same family are running. In Zarqa, eight members of the al-Khalayeh clan are running. The government denies allegations of vote rigging.
     
    Saad al-Chab, from the interior ministry, told Al Jazeera that King Abdullah, Jordan's ruler, "has ordered the government to run the elections in complete transparency and fairness".
     
    "As a result, the ministry of the interior has decided the election will run on an electronic basis," he said.
     
    Islamists' demand
     
    The IAF, which won 17 parliamentary seats in the previous elections in 2003, has demanded independent monitors.

    Women waited in line to cast their votes in
    Salt, 20km northwest of Amman, on Tuesday

    Marouf Bakhit, the prime minister, turned down the request which he said would mean "that Jordan's transparency and electoral process is questionable".
     
    But as reports of "vote buying" spread, a local newspaper published a picture showing a voter allegedly receiving a sum of money from the aide of a candidate.
     
    The men's faces were blurred out.
     
    More than three times as many women have declared their candidacy than in 2003, when 54 ran, encouraged by a mandatory six-seat quota imposed by the king.
     
    Initial results
     
    Vote counting was due to begin immediately after the polling stations close, and initial results were expected on Tuesday evening.
     
    The government has declared Tuesday a holiday to encourage people to vote.
     
    Officials were predicting a turnout of at least 60 per cent.
     
    Jordan also has an upper-house senate. Its 55 members are all appointed by the king, who will swear in the new government after the polls.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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