Will Omar Maani Be Next To Resign?

Ammon is reporting that several members of parliament and the city council are looking to question the mayor, Omar Maani, on alleged corruption deals. One member claims to even have documents pertaining to the mayor’s alleged abuse of power, revolving around favored contract-granting.

At this point, I’d like to emphasize the word “alleged”.

Next to Bassem Awadallah, Maani is probably the most targeted personality in Jordan’s political arena these days. Half the country lives in Amman. The gap between rich and poor is more evident here than anywhere else in the Kingdom. Not everyone is happy about the rapid changes happening in the Capital. Companies no one has ever heard of are suddenly striking big contracting deals seemingly out of the blue. Other problems go unaddressed. There is, as usual, public confusion, and no one on the other end of the line is offering solace. The public is ripe for hearing and believing anything at this point. This, for the most part, seems to be the perception on-the-ground. How true or factual it is, is pretty much irrelevant – again, politics is all about perception.

If you keep your ear close to the ground in Amman’s political discussions, or, are alive in any way, Maani’s name is a frequent centerpiece. Rarely is it ever mentioned in a good light but then again, what politician is? Nevertheless, accusations, rumors and suspicions of corruption are as synonymous with Maani’s name these days as they were with Awadallah. How true such allegations are, are again, pretty much irrelevant in the grand scheme of Jordanian politics.

And this begs the question of whether the critics will now turn their heads to Maani. And if such a turn yields a resignation, it also begs the question of whether this is the start of accountability taking place in some unofficial capacity, or, the beginning of something else: the reining in of the so-labeled reformists.

The problem with such central figures of power is that when the gang is being rounded up, different people with their different motives jump on the bandwagon and you end up with a group of muddled people, some demanding accountability, some demanding justice, some demanding a piece of the pie, and some, are just well-trained snipers when it comes to character assassinations.

Their motives are different but their goal is the same.

In a way, public officials really have no one to blame but themselves. Not having a system of accountability means not having the protection of one either. Something along the lines of what Capote said with regards to law.

As for me, when it comes to corruption I always reserve my judgment until evidence is actually brought forth. In a city like Amman, located in a country like Jordan, it’s literally the easiest thing in the world to believe a rumor based merely on its intensity, rather than its credibility.


  • Nas, Like you I never believe the rumors I hear (and what a rumor-happy place!). I’ve found that they’e typically about 50% true. No, not 50% of them are true, but 50% of each rumor is true… :).

  • I have had the pleasure of knowing both men mentioned in the article. Although they are both intelligent, eloquent and capble – the differences are like day and night. Omar is a noble soul with dignity and humility. He is a self-disciplined man that only wants to contribute and do good by his country and God. I do not know abou the specifics of whatever allegations are being made, but I know the man would not have done anything that would in any way have been ill-intended. He was successful and content long beofre he was honoroed with he position of mayor. Although I have not sEen him since, I was happy when I heard about it. Like a few others out there, rare gems, he is not after personal glory but a chance to serve. I wish him well in the fight against the rumours. I am sure he will overcome it because of his sense of humor and disregard for cheap gossip.

  • I would like to talk here about Omar Maani, as I heard many good and noble things about him, but what I care most is what I see on the ground. Omar has changed alot in Amman, from removing the olive trees from the pavements that causes allergy, to constructing many tunnels that eased the traffic that was very noticable this summer. I has also worked on recreating new areas in amman like Wakalat Street and Rainbow street, as well as encouraged flea markets such as Jara and Lweibdeh. It is true that our city still lacks the beauty and parks it needs and the decent streets, but atleast he is not stealing money from the people.

  • Sometimes people who make needed changes are slammed by the ones who liked the status quo. I would be sad to see Mayor Maani resign. Like Ali, I like his style and investment in beautifying the culture of Amman.

  • Actually there are real accusations about giving away cars and bonuses up to 15-20 thousand JDs for some GAM executives, as well as a bid that was assigned to his wife’s office in a suspicious way .

    I’m hearing rumors from people that his deputy, Mr Basheer, will be replacing him soon!

  • Nas i think that the rumors are very strong signs in our political system obviously due to the lack of an effective judicial system when it comes to public official and a free investigative media so you just cant say that it it doesn’t play a major role in our Jordanian political environment let me give you such examples, for example Awadallah’s villa or palace in Daboug, the bangalian trading company that is going to be prosecuted in the U.S and awadallah’s relation to it, omar maani wife’s engineering office that suddenly had a massive increase in its governmental projects all of these are rumors and no one can prove anything about it right?
    but what should happen if someone accused you of something insulting and not true? naturally you would go out to these accusers and prove to them that you’re not!
    but unfortunately none of our officials ever came out and denied a rumor by means of solid prove which in my opinion means that they that there is some truth in it

  • “but unfortunately none of our officials ever came out and denied a rumor by means of solid prove which in my opinion means that they that there is some truth in it”

    i don’t agree with that. this thinking is more in lines with “where there’s smoke there’s fire” and that doesn’t work in real terms. just because a public official, or heck, anyone for that matter doesn’t deny a random accusation against them doesn’t mean they’re guilty. i mean if that’s the case then our judicial system might as well be based on dunking the suspect in a tub of water to see if he or she floats…

    i do however agree with you insofar as there needing to be increased transparency and accountability, which I feel can only be done through the press and their questioning.

  • Can Jordanian public figures that run any form of legislation just quit? Isn’t there a required transition period, preceedings, a process, oath, contract of any kind?

  • “Companies no one has ever heard of are suddenly striking big contracting deals seemingly out of the blue. ”
    For the sack of the argument,if he is innocent of the corruption charges, are we fair to say,his administration lack transparency and disclosure of what you termed bluntly as “striking big contracting deals seemingly out of the blue”??
    what about his role in the Abu ghazaleh real estate in Al Abdali??,as i understand it he sided with Mini Hariri and the fat boys..

  • You know the problem is corruptions has its Guard in Jordan.

    Instead of defending him, you can mention what are those allegation.

    PMs and council members wont gather for nothing. let’s wait and see, he might need your support later.

  • I say keep the rumors spreading more and more, and make their life hell until they put in the accountability measures that would protect them from these rumors.

    I will not trust any official out there without these measures in place. If I don’t trust them, then I will most probably believe the rumors I hear.

    Sorry, but this is the sad truth

  • urduni: that was not maani personally, that was the GAM as a political body. in that case, i think they, technically, legally had the right to get involved in some capacity. however, their role as hariri’s lawyer was disappointing and outright wrong.

    shaheen: i am neither defending nor attacking anyone. i don’t know what those allegations are aside from what i wrote, which is directly from the article: favored contract-granting. i’m not going to make stuff up. this post is simply me wondering if this could possibly be a political trend. no more, no less.

    Zait o Za3tar: you make a valid point which i think rings true for most of our society and is something i was trying to point out. it doesn’t matter how “good” and “solid” a public figure is, without the proper mechanisms for accountability and transparency, no one will ever trust them. this is not to say people don’t trust politicians anyway, but it would sure make things a lot easier legally speaking. instead, politics is left to the whims of public perception and outcry.

  • I can not understand why he gave cash gifts for top employees in AM,

    if its not corruption, I charge him bad management and poor performance.
    and its enough to give him a one way ticket from the down town.

  • I don’t know, I think one needs to give him at least some benefit of doubt, as the guy actually accomplished quite a lot in such a small timeframe (and given how corrupt his predecessor was; land confiscation, giving away public property to private companies, hint hint Jordan Gate). But really, Maani has been working on downsizing the GAM, especially in terms of employee numbers, removing inefficiencies, and actually forcing the useless GAM employees to become somewhat productive. All these things do not bode well with your average Jordanian.

    On the other hand, there has been talk about the whole Autobus (the Amman bus consortium) having discrepancies in financial reports. But then again, couldn’t that mean that probably, just probably the consortium ganged up against the GAM? Especially since, I found it bizarre that three companies in Jordan would merge into one..and we all know how Jordanians (and Arabs in general) are in love with “The Chair”…

    I just can’t help but think of “exposing” these corruption cases as settling scores really. No official blows the whistle around here unless he stepped on another official’s turf.

  • I have no considered opinion with regard to either official mentioned in this post, or at least not one that I . think will sway the point I’m about to make. Transparency and accountability are basically considered, by any educated mind, as the core pillar of a checks-and-balances system inherent in any “democratic” form of government, but there is something to be said for over-zealous, under-researched journalism and bored “observers” reporting on accusations but missing out evidentiary support. Hell, right now I’d settle for a whiff of it. By saying this, I don’t mean to say that I don’t have my suspicions regarding alleged corruption charges that have circulated across town, but they remain personal suspicions that, if shared, I wouldn’t be able to sufficiently back. Without a paper trail, account discrepancies or some sort of admissible form of proof, I really think that the people, journalists or otherwise, have let down their side of the bargain as one of the main watchdogs. Until then, I guess I’m going to have to draw my sense of civil justice from the Palin report which, incidentally, has enough evidentiary support for *Republicans* to qualifiedly say she has “bumped right against the edges” of the state’s ethics laws. (how many times can that woman fall on her face?)

  • His wife creates a new company, this company gets the contract to the remodeling of the airport with a French company. the question is, if there was nothing weird about it, then why create a new company? why not use the same old company that everyone knew? this is not a rumor, just check who has the contract for the airport.

Your Two Piasters: