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Brotherhood, protest groups plan mass anti-election rally

By Taylor Luck - Dec 30,2012 - Last updated at Dec 30,2012

AMMAN — A number of political activist groups, including most prominently the Muslim Brotherhood, are planning to hold a mass rally just before next month’s parliamentary elections to encourage citizens not to participate in the vote.

Over 50 political groups and protest coalitions on Saturday announced plans to participate in a mass election boycott rally in Amman on January 18, less than a week before the January 23 polls.

“We call on all Jordanians, of all political and social backgrounds, to come out and show their rejection of these phony elections and the political regime’s ongoing negligence of the citizens’ demands,” said Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the groups spearheading the protest.

“The Jordanian people have demanded real political change and a chance to take part in the decision-making process. These elections are just the latest proof that the regime is not willing to take these demands seriously.”

Calls for a similar mass rally drew some 20,000 to the capital’s streets on October 5, well short of the 50,000 predicted by the Islamist movement yet by far the largest demonstration in Jordan since the start of the Arab Spring uprisings in early 2011.

In a statement issued late on Saturday, organisers said the demonstration was meant to “stress citizens’ reform demands” and protest what they describe as the government’s “refusal” to carry out broader political reforms.

The Muslim Brotherhood is currently spearheading a national boycott movement, urging citizens to forgo the polls over an “undemocratic” Elections Law that they claim is essentially a copy of the controversial one-person, one-vote system and favours tribal candidates at the expense of political parties.

In addition to changes to the Elections Law, activists have demanded constitutional amendments ensuring the formation of parliamentary governments. 

Despite dozens of so-called grass-roots popular movements and reform coalitions confirming that they plan to attend the rally, the Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front remains the sole political party scheduled to participate.

The parliamentary elections became a target of protesters in November, as hundreds of demonstrators burned their voter identification cards in protest against the government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies.

Despite the Islamist-led boycott, over 1,500 citizens have registered as candidates in the elections.

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