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Islamists end boycott, to run for elections in September

By Khetam Malkawi - Jun 11,2016 - Last updated at Jun 11,2016

A woman casts her vote during Parliamentary elections on January 23, 2013, in Amman. The leading Islamist party has voted to compete in the 2016 elections, after boycotting polls for two consecutive cycles (JT photo)

AMMAN — The Islamic Action Front (IAF) on Saturday announced it will take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections slated for September 20, after boycotting the elections for two cycles.

The decision was made late Saturday, after a vote for the IAF’s shura council, where 41 out of 49 members present voted for taking part in the elections, according to Murad Adayleh, the IAF’s spokesperson. The total number of the shura council members is 57.

The Islamists boycotted the 2010 and 2013 polls citing the “unjust electoral law and vote rigging in 2007”, and the controversial one-person, one-vote electoral system, which was discarded by the new law, and replaced by an at-large voting system in which candidates can run for parliamentary elections on one large multi-member ticket at the district level.

The IAF is the political arm of the old Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the only legitimate entity representing the seven-decade-old group that has been labelled illegal in Jordan after a rival, splinter group registered itself as the legitimate Brotherhood.

To ensure more representation in the upcoming elections, Adayleh said the IAF, the largest opposition party in the Kingdom, will look for partnerships with other blocs that will take part in the elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood was announced illegal and its offices were closed by authorities after a group of defectors registered the Muslim Brotherhood Society as a Jordanian entity, and managed to seize some of the group’s properties after winning lawsuits.

The closure of the offices came in implementation of judicial rulings to transfer properties of the unlicensed MB to the splinter group, the Muslim Brotherhood Society.

The defectors, led by former overall leader Abdul Majeed Thuneibat, are joining another political party that is also under establishment and led by Rheil Gharaibeh, founder of Zamzam Initiative. Gharaibeh has also quit the Brotherhood and its political party due to their rejection to the reform initiative he proposed under the name Zamzam.

Meanwhile, another group of Islamists, led by veteran Islamist Hamzeh Mansour, left the IAF itself last December and announced recently that they would register a new political party.

IAF is now the only legitimate entity that the MB can work under. Although the group has rectified its stance and announced severing ties with the mother group in Egypt early this year, it is still considered illegal as it has not yet registered in Jordan as a local organisation.

In a previous statement to The Jordan Times, Ibrahim Gharaibeh, a political analyst and author with a Brotherhood background, said the group’s participation in the elections “is the only way to prove it still exists”.

Although Gharaibeh expected that MB contenders would not be able to win more than 15 to 20 out of the 130 House seats, he noted that their presence in the Lower House would add to the legislative authority’s diversity. 

 

In comparison, in the 1989 elections, MB candidates won big, capturing more than a quarter of the 80-seat House back then, and emerging as a strong opposition power, eclipsing other opposition political forces, such as Arab nationalists and leftists. 

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