Jordan’s Latest Political Developments

A bit of interesting political developments are unfolding in Jordan these past few days.

A Royal committee is proposing to divide the Kingdom into three development regions, each with an elected council, to jump-start decentralisation, enhance public participation in decision-making and ensure more efficiency in local government.

The proposal, submitted to His Majesty King Abdullah 10 days ago, also conceives of a return to fully elected municipal councils, reversing a 2003 decision granting the Council of Ministers the right to appoint the mayor and half the members of each council.

Regions & Their Governates

Yarmouk Region [North]: Ajloun, Mafraq, Jerash and Irbid as its capital

Raghadan Region [Center]: Amman, Balqa, Zarqa and Madaba governorates (excluding the GAM) and Salt as the capital

Muta Region [South]: Maan, Tafileh, Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ), with Karak as its capital.

This last region is also slated to comprise a â??Petra regionâ? with a special statute, modelled on the ASEZ.

The Committee is made up of a Jordanian politics All-Star team, including: Fayez Tarawneh, Abdur-Ra’uf S. Rawabdeh, Zeid Rifai, Aqel Biltaji, Marwan Hmoud, Awad Khleifat, Rajai Dajani, Nayef Qadi, Hisham Tal and Abdul Hadi Majali, MP Mamdouh Abbadi and Khatib, who is director general of the Jordan River Foundation.

To Note:

– The Greater Amman Municipality is excluded because it is shared by all Jordanians and is home to the central government.

– This proposal has dispelled rumors of a fourth region encompassing the West Bank

– Municipal councils would be elected under the one-person, one-vote system.

The King has said:

…that the ultimate goal of the reform was to reverse the top-to-bottom approach typical of liberalisation efforts so far: â??Political development should start at the grassroots level, then move up to decision-making centres, and not vice-versa.â?

He also listed the functions of the proposed regional councils: â??Affairs related to public facilities, investment priorities, capital expenditures and services, and oversee the performance of official bodies in all areas.â?

I have mixed views on this decentralization. On the one hand it is in a sense a sign of political reform and in theory it is designed to help allocate funds and address the specific needs of particular areas instead of having the central government do all of that.

On the other hand when theory comes to practice will we end up having simple a few hundred government officials on a state salary sucking the tanks dry? Will we be inadvertantly increasing oppertunities for a more localized form of corruption as funds are allocated to these areas? While decentralization is a way to restore the neglected areas outside Amman I find myself wondering if this will only lead to a greater degree of neglect as these areas grow disconnected from the central government.

Now in Other Important News…

– The Arab Islamic Democratic (or Du’aa) Party, is in the process of being joined by 5 other smaller centerist parties under its name. The party’s leader Mohammad Abu Bakr has said that this an attempt to leave behind the crisis the political parties have been facing lately and create a model example for other parties to follow suit. He also said a new body for the party will be introduced that includes a new elected leader, delegates, treasurer, and party spokesperson.

I should start keeping score of the number of parties we have.

– Opposition Parties and Professional Associations have said there is no need for new anti-terror laws and that national security is a collective responsibility.

Something tells me this call will fall on deaf ears and these laws will eventually pass and will eventually have a negative impact on these associations and the opposition parties.

Things To Read:

– How Jordan and Arizona became eco-buds?

– Royal Jordanian Airlines has banned citizens of Arab nations from flying to Iraq

and meanwhile…

– Remember those Iraqi planes that have been living in the airport since 1991? They will be removed in the next two weeks and the $6.5 million dollars of rent money will be forgiven by the government.


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