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5 parties in opposition coalition suspend membership

By Khaled Neimat - Nov 13,2012 - Last updated at Nov 13,2012

AMMAN — Over a year after its establishment, the National Front for Reform (NFR) is facing a major challenge after five of its main parties suspended their membership, according to one of the members.

Five nationalist and leftist parties, which were part of the pro-reform coalition, suspended their membership after other members slammed their decision to participate in the January 23 elections, Akram Homsi, secretary general of the Jordanian Arab Socialist Baath Party, said on Monday.

Homsi’s party, the Communist Party, the Jordanian Democratic People’s Party (Hashed), the National Movement for Direct Democracy and the Arab Baath Progressive Party all announced that they will take part in the elections, despite a decision by the NFR in July to boycott the polls.

During a meeting late Sunday, NFR members, which include the Islamic Action Front (IAF), slammed the leaders of these parties, accusing them of attempting to weaken the front, which was established in June 2011.

The IAF, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the leftist Jordanian Democratic Popular Unity Party and other popular movements and professional associations that decided to boycott the polls claimed that participating in the elections will not serve the interests of the opposition groups in the country.

The NFR, which is headed by former premier Ahmad Obeidat, issued a statement late Sunday stressing that any member that violates the front’s decision to boycott the elections loses its membership in the coalition and its executive board.

Hashed Secretary General Abla Abu Olbeh told The Jordan Times that the five parties would review their decision to freeze their membership if the front retracts its statement.

Prior to this decision, the front included seven opposition parties on its board, in addition to professional associations, leading politicians and activists.

“Now, we are not members of this alliance,” Homsi said, noting that “the five parties that froze their membership in the NFR will not rejoin unless the front establishes a clear framework for its operations”.

“We are independent parties and we cannot follow certain individuals just to please them,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Homsi said the NFR had been a major platform for most opposition powers to express their views over political, social and economic developments in the country, but the group failed to set up a clear institutional framework for its operations.

Meanwhile, the five leftist and pan-Arabist parties participating in the polls are expected to announce a “unified political programme” under which they will run in the polls, Homsi said.

Abu Olbeh said the programme would set the ground for forming a united list that includes members of these parties and other national figures who share the same values and ideas.

She added that the programme will tackle issues including the parties’ positions towards the current Elections Law and the current economic challenges facing the Kingdom.

The Elections Law adopted a mixed system under which, each voter will have two votes, one at the district level and another designated for a 27-seat list at the national level.

Political parties or groups can field candidates on the national list.

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