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House endorses decentralisation bill

By Raed Omari - Aug 23,2015 - Last updated at Aug 23,2015

MPs vote on the reform-oriented draft decentralisation law in Amman on Sunday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — The Lower House on Sunday passed the draft decentralisation law, granting eligible voters two votes each as they elect the governorate council, which represents a local legislature.

MPs also went back on an amendment they previously made to cancel appointments in governorate councils, endorsing instead the government's version under which 25 per cent of the councils will be appointed. 

The House also cancelled from the reform-oriented bill a 15 per cent women’s quota, which was previously proposed by MP Wafa Bani Mustafa and endorsed by a majority of MPs.

MPs also refused the referral of disputes between the executive council, local government and the governorate council to the prime minister as worded by the government, insisting that such disputes have to be resolved by an ad hoc committee comprising members from both councils that take its decisions by a majority.

Under the lawmakers' amendments, governorate councils are to be elected for a four-year term, tasked with endorsing strategic plans, budgets, infrastructure and service projects, and investments as well as the development projects referred by the executive council.

MPs endorsed another provision granting the Cabinet the power to decide when to conduct elections of the governorate councils even in case a given poll coincides with the municipal polls. The Cabinet can also postpone the election of governorate councils in case municipal polls are delayed for any reason.

Jordanians aged at least 25 years can run for the governorate council’s elections, as deputies decided, provided that they have clean criminal history and no affiliations with a non-Jordanian political parties. 

Candidates for the governorate councils should hold a bachelor’s degree as the minimum academic requirement under amendments made by the lawmakers, who cited the decentralisation law’s compatibility with the previously endorsed municipalities law which requires candidates for the position of mayor in areas with a population of 100,000 or more to be holders of the first university degree.

The House also rejected an amendment by a joint committee to cancel the provision granting the Cabinet the power to dissolve elected councils, even before completing their four-year term, in case of violating the Constitution and the law, harming the Kingdom’s interests and failure to perform their duties. 

A prison term between three and seven years with hard labour will be the penalty for those using political money during the governorate council elections, under MPs’ amendments, which also imposed a prison term of between five and 10 years in addition to a fine not less than JD10, 000 for anyone who steals or attempts to steal a ballot box before and after vote sorting.  

 

In a previous session, deputies endorsed an article in the decentralisation bill allowing the interior minister to call the army to help restore security in case police forces in a given governorate cannot alone bring a situation under control.

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