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Jordan: Government's Proposal To Amend Constitution Challenges Intentions Of Brace Democratic Experience

Geneva – The constitutional amendments proposed by the Jordanian government might constitute an unwelcome concentration of power that might thwart any future democratic experiment, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor warned Sunday in a statement.

The proposed government amendment contains many legal flaws and may lead to emptying any future parliamentary government of its powers, as it assigns major government tasks to new bodies that are not subject to any oversight authority.

On 15 November, the Jordanian Minister of Political Development, Musa Al-Maaytah, said that “the government submitted to Parliament – in addition to the outputs of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System – a proposal for a constitutional amendment that includes the formation of a national security council that will be responsible for security issues headed by the King, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Interior, Director of Intelligence, and the Chief of Staff, in addition to two members chosen by the King, provided that a regulation is issued for this.”

He stated that the proposal aims “to keep the higher national interests away from any partisan disputes that may occur in the event that one or more parties are able to form a partisan government in the future.”

The “responsibility for security issues,” which the proposal will assign to a new national council, may not include security in its traditional sense alone, but extend to include security at various levels such as food, health, educational, environmental, and others. Thus, the proposal affects the original powers of the government according to the Jordanian constitution, as Article 45 states that “The Council of Ministers shall be entrusted with the responsibility of administering all affairs of the State, internal and external, with the exception of such matters as are or may be entrusted by the present Constitution (**) or by any other legislation to any other person or body.”

The proposed amendments do not comply with the principle that responsibility is correlated with oversight and accountability. There are no clear or announced mechanisms for oversight over the proposed national security council, unlike the government, whose work is monitored by the House of Representatives. The House also has many tools to hold it accountable that may amount to a no-confidence which leads to its dismissal.

The government amendment proposal is a retraction from many of the outcomes of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, which adopted important proposals to empower women and youth and enhance partisan participation, possibly paving the way for the arrival of a parliamentary government that reflects the popular will.

However, if the government proposal is approved, it will be difficult to implement the outputs of the royal committee due to the assignment of key government powers to the proposed national security council.

All the members of the proposed council are heads of different bodies who practice their tasks according to laws, but the proposed amendment creates a regulation that gives them the authority to practice the same tasks, in clear violation of the legislative hierarchy in which laws transcend regulations.

The Jordanian government should withdraw the constitutional amendment proposal, as it represents a clear undermining of any future parliamentary government and a practical retreat from official trends to enhance political participation and popular representation.

The Jordanian parliament should reject the government's proposed amendments and preserve legislative authority’s powers of accountability and effective oversight over the work of the executive authority, which is guaranteed by the constitution in its current state.

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