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His Majesty directs gov’t to activate Defence Ministry, expand IEC’s role

By JT - Aug 14,2014 - Last updated at Aug 14,2014

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday directed the government to activate the Ministry of Defence and expand the jurisdiction of the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) to encompass all electoral processes.

In a letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, the King issued directives to activate the Defence Ministry to assume the political, economic, legal and logistic functions related to national defence.

The measure will be part of "a crucial new phase of reforms — based on the principles of transparency, enhancing popular participation and sharing national responsibilities — to add to the major qualitative reforms achieved over the past three years".

The ministry will take over the non-military logistic, administrative, investment and development duties, and those not associated with specialised professional military domain that the General Command of the Jordan Armed Forces (JAF) currently undertakes.

Its envisioned role will also include developing the state’s general defence capabilities and managing military resources more efficiently.

Expanding the IEC's role will authorise it to manage and supervise municipal elections, in addition to any other elections the government assigns, "ensuring the utmost levels of transparency, integrity and fairness — particularly as we embark on a gradual implementation of the national decentralisation project", the King said.

In his reply to the King's letter, Ensour requested permission to introduce two amendments to the Constitution.

The first constitutional amendment entails assigning the authority to appoint the chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff and director of the General Intelligence Department to the Supreme Commander of the JAF.

The measure is aimed at "ensuring that the Arab Army and the General Intelligence Department remain professional and apolitical", Ensour said in the letter.

"This will pave the way for activating the role of the Ministry of Defence and relaunching it gradually under the umbrella of the Council of Ministers," he said.

The second amendment is needed to expand the IEC’s authority to encompass managing all elections, including non-parliamentary polls and those conducted under the decentralisation plan.

“We will strive... and take extra care to draft the required laws and by-laws — as soon as the two constitutional amendments listed above are completed — to implement the two reform steps envisaged by Your Majesty,” Ensour said.

 

Following is the official translation of His Majesty’s letter to Ensour:

 

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate

 

Your Excellency Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour,


Peace be upon you, God’s mercy and blessings,

 

We extend to you and your colleagues in the Cabinet our greetings and good wishes, and reaffirm our faith in your dedication to forge ahead in the comprehensive national reform drive embraced by Jordan as a steady approach, characterised by calm, confident and gradual progress, as one achievement builds on another.

In line with our keenness to push the reform drive further, we direct the government to proceed into a crucial new phase of reforms — based on the principles of transparency, enhancing popular participation and sharing national responsibilities — to add to the major qualitative reforms achieved over the past three years. This comes at a time when our region is going through extremely dangerous and unprecedented circumstances, which requires more diligent work to strengthen and reorganise our national institutions and improve their performance.

Accordingly, we direct you to begin implementing the following reform steps:

 

First: Start work to establish the national institution of a Ministry of Defence to assume the political, economic, legal, and logistic functions related to national defence, in a manner that achieves the following:

Develop the state’s general defence capabilities.

Transfer the non-military logistic, administrative, investment and development duties, and those not associated with specialised professional military domain from the jurisdiction of the General Command of the Jordan Armed Forces to the Ministry of Defence at a gradual pace, enabling the Arab Army to focus on its professional military functions.

Manage military resources more efficiently and effectively.

Organise relations with veterans and retired servicemen, as supporters of their brothers in arms and in active service of defending the homeland, and utilising their services and energies in various fields.

We also stress the importance of giving you the ample time you see is needed to examine the issue extensively and prepare the necessary studies, followed by developing an operational plan to arrive at the gradual activation of the Ministry of Defence over the next coming years.

 

Second: Expand the role of the Independent Elections Commission in administering electoral processes to include managing and supervising municipal elections, in addition to any other elections the government assigns, ensuring the utmost levels of transparency, integrity and fairness — particularly as we embark on gradual implementation of the national decentralisation project.

 

Your Excellency,

 

As we believe in the government’s ability to develop a clear vision for implementing this new reform phase, we wish you all the best and hope that your efforts will prove successful in achieving these reform steps, which reflect our vision and meet the aspirations of our people, enabling us to move ahead in serving our precious homeland and our beloved citizens.

 

Peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.

 

Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein

 

Amman, Shawwal 17, 1435

August 13, 2014

 

Following is the official translation of the prime minister’s reply to the King’s letter:

 

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate

 

Your Majesty King Abdullah, may God protect you.

Peace be upon you, God’s mercy and blessings,

Having received, myself and the ministerial team, with the utmost respect and responsibility Your Majesty’s directives to move forward into a new phase of reforms that translates your visions and meets the aspirations of your people; the Council of Ministers assures Your Majesty that it is committed to developing a detailed plan to establish the role of the Ministry of Defence as a national institution to assume the political, economic, social, legal and logistic duties of national defence. It is also committed to expanding the role of the Independent Elections Commission in administering and supervising all electoral processes assigned by the government.

We affirm to Your Majesty that the government’s plan to implement the new reforms will be based on the key points that Your Majesty have identified, and will be formulated in a manner that solidifies Jordan’s drive towards an advanced stage of reform. We will also strive to reinforce the pillars of reform and deepen the democratic transformation that Your Majesty envisions and which your people aspire towards.

The government plan will also be geared towards finding the necessary legal means to guarantee that the Jordan Armed Forces and other security apparatuses maintain the highest levels of professionalism, to remain — as you have always envisaged them to be — a unique, distinguished Jordanian achievement far from politicisation.

In line with our determination to respond promptly to Your Majesty’s directives and keenness on implementing reform steps that bolster Jordan’s resilience in light of the regional developments and their unprecedented security challenges, whose repercussions are expected to continue for coming years; and in line with Your Majesty’s directives that the government take ample time to conduct the required in-depth studies and formulate an operational plan for implementation gradually and over the coming years, the government requests Your Majesty’s permission to present two draft amendments to the Constitution to enable us to implement the two reform steps mentioned earlier:

 

First: The first constitutional amendment entails assigning the authority to appoint Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of the General Intelligence Department to the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces, the Head of State, in confirmation of the historical role of the Hashemite Monarchy and the Throne institution as a uniting factor and a safety valve that leads efforts to safeguard national security and defend the homeland’s achievements, and in light of the increasing challenges around us, and out of a keenness to translate Your Majesty’s vision in ensuring that the Arab Army and the General Intelligence Department remain professional and apolitical, as they have always been known to be, throughout our path towards an advanced democracy and party-based parliamentary governments in the future.

This will pave the way for activating the role of the Ministry of Defence and relaunching it gradually under the umbrella of the Council of Ministers in a manner that fulfils what Your Majesty have called for in terms of enhancing the state’s general defensive capabilities; managing defence resources efficiently; and gradually transferring the logistic, administrative, investment and development duties beyond professional military specialisations from the General Command of the Jordan Armed Forces to the Ministry of Defence, enabling the army command to focus on its professional military duties; in addition to organising relations with veterans and retired servicemen, who are supporters of their brothers in arms and in active service of defending the homeland, and utilising their services and energies in various fields.

 

Second: The second constitutional amendment entails expanding the role of the Independent Elections Commission to include administering and supervising all other non-parliamentary elections and those assigned by the government at the governorate, municipal and local councils levels; in light of the drive towards decentralisation, which will ensure a higher level of representation and participation in decision making. This will be done within a framework of the highest levels of integrity, transparency and neutrality that guide administering elections in a manner that consolidates the drive towards democratic transformation.

To conclude, we will strive, Your Majesty, and take extra care to draft the required laws and by-laws — as soon as the two constitutional amendments listed above are completed — to implement the two reform steps envisaged by Your Majesty and in a manner that fulfils your reform aspirations in the service of our dear homeland and its higher interests.

May God bless you as leader of Jordan’s march and pillar of strength and support to your people.

 

Peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.

 

Prime Minister

Dr Abdullah Ensour

Amman, Shawwal 17, 1435

August 13, 2014

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