Tribal movement wins Jordan vote, Islamists to protest

Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:49am EST
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By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) - Pro-government candidates strengthened their hold on Jordan's parliament after an election on Wednesday boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood-led opposition, which said the ballot was biased against it.

State television said on Thursday that most of the 150 seats contested were won by independents, candidates with limited political agendas who rely on family and tribal allegiances rather than party backing.

The growth of tribalism as a political force in Jordan has blunted the emergence of national parties and curbed the influence of the Brotherhood - whose deputy leader said it would press on with street protests "to achieve the reforms we want."

A U.S.-backed monarchy, the country has seen major Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations against corruption that were critical of King Abdullah, though not on the scale of those that toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and led to civil wars in Libya and Syria.

The protesters have focused on reforming government and limiting King Abdullah's powers rather than ousting him.

The Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing in Jordan and the country's largest opposition party, shunned the election because it said the electoral law was designed to curb its influence.

The deputy head of the Brotherhood, Zaki Bani Rusheid, said the new parliament was no different from previous rubber-stamp assemblies packed by government loyalists.

"This assembly has the same credentials of the previous one in its weakness and lack of will in practicing its constitutional role in legislation and making governments accountable,' Bani Rusheid told Reuters.   Continued...

Officials count ballots after polls closed at a polling station in Amman January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hammad