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Election body urges citizens to report cases of vote buying

By Khaled Neimat - Jan 06,2013 - Last updated at Jan 06,2013

AMMAN — The Independent Elections Commission (IEC) on Sunday said it does not have the capacity to uncover all cases of vote buying ahead of the January 23 elections, noting that it relies mostly on citizens to report such practices.

“It is almost impossible to detect all such cases,” said IEC Spokesperson Hussein Bani Hani. But the IEC, he stressed, will not spare any efforts to bring those involved to court.

Citizens and candidates talk about the use of money to bribe voters ahead of the legislative elections, but they never provide solid evidence, said Bani Hani, who criticised those who question the validity of the entire elections over individual cases of vote buying.

“There are instances of vote buying… but we have a strong and adequate legal framework to fight it,” the spokesperson added, noting that the IEC only needs voters and candidates alike to present cases supported by evidence so that it can build solid cases in court.

Last week, the Integrity Coalition for Election Observation (Nazaha) said it had recorded attempts at vote buying in Amman’s 2nd District, carried out by a person campaigning for a former MP.

Nazaha said the campaigner had offered JD80 per vote and that the coalition had informed the IEC of the incident.

Other vote-buying attempts were also recorded in Qasabat Al Mafraq (central district) and in the Northern Badia District where JD40 was allegedly offered per vote.

The coalition also recorded a campaign during which a candidate was distributing food parcels in a neighbourhood in Wadi Abdoun.

According to Bani Hani, buying votes is a crime at legal and moral levels that would affect the outcome of the entire election process.

The IEC has referred three cases of violations of election regulations to court: one involves current candidate Yihya Saud for holding thousands of voter identification cards; another of a similar nature involves a woman; and the third concerning one candidate from Madaba who gave false information regarding his nationality status.

The three cases are yet to reach court.

Meanwhile, the IEC said on Sunday that 54 candidates have so far withdrawn from the election race, with 38 local constituency candidates and 16 national ticket nominees by the end of Sunday’s working day, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Monday is the last day for national ticket candidates to withdraw.

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