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Jordanians elect 17th Parliament today

By Khaled Neimat - Jan 22,2013 - Last updated at Jan 22,2013

AMMAN — Jordanians head to the polls today to select members of the 17th Lower House of Parliament.

Around 2.3 million eligible voters are registered to elect the 150-strong House.

For the first time ever, voters will cast two ballots, one for the local district and the other for the closed proportional list at the national level, according to the 2012 Elections Law.

The voting centres will open at 7:00am across the Kingdom and will receive voters until 7:00pm, unless there is a need to extend the elections for two more hours, based on a decision by the Independent Elections Commission (IEC).

More than 47,000 police and Gendarmerie personnel have been deployed to polling stations across the Kingdom at dawn on Tuesday to ensure the safety of Wednesday’s elections.

An additional 10,000 police and Gendarmerie personnel will remain on stand-by in case of emergencies that might occur on the election day.

The elections will take place under the supervision of the newly formed IEC. The commission has handled all stages of the elections.

IEC President Abdul Ilah Khatib on Tuesday said the commission had taken all necessary measures to guarantee that citizens can freely exercise their right to vote on Wednesday.

In an op-ed published in Arabic dailies, Khatib wrote that the IEC had worked hard to address the loopholes that made violations possible in the past and took measures to ensure that these elections are free of irregularities.

IEC Spokesperson Hussein Bani Hani called on the voters and the candidates to abide by the law and regulations, stressing that its teams would take tough decisions against any attempt to interfere with the elections.

Voters will have to select their representatives out of 606 candidates competing at the local district level and 819 running under 61 national tickets. The Elections Law designates 27 seats for the national district and 15 for the women’s quota.

A total of 7,013 local observers are monitoring the polls, while nine international missions and 13 bodies have deployed 493 observers.

Despite its official boycott of the polls, the Muslim Brotherhood has announced that it will dispatch over 400 observers across the country on the election day.

As per the Elections Law, all candidates and lists must suspend campaigning by midnight on Tuesday.

The IEC said the Greater Amman Municipality and all municipalities across the country will have to remove the campaigning materials from the streets if candidates do not comply, using guarantee money deposited by the hopefuls.

All media outlets including news websites must also stop advertisements related to election campaigning, otherwise, they will be subject to legal actions, in line with Article 21 of the 2012 Elections Law.

Vote buying

Also on Wednesday, the Amman First Instance Court rejected a second bail petition submitted by lawyers of the head of the National Union Party, Mohammad Khashman.

Khashman is heading the party’s national ticket with 26 candidates.

The court also rejected another bail petition submitted by the lawyers of Ahmad Safadi, who is a candidate in the Amman’s 3rd District and a former MP.

The two candidates will remain in custody on election day, along with Amman’s 2nd District candidate Ghazi Elayyan and Madaba candidate Adnan Abu Rukbeh.

Should any detained candidate win, he or she will not become a deputy unless the court rules that he or she is not guilty.

However, the Salt Criminal Court accepted a bail petition to free candidate Nidal Hiyari (Balqa, 1st District), who was detained on Tuesday.

The candidates were detained for charges of vote buying and holding voters’ identification cards.

Several Twitter users in Jordan have posted tweets about the detention of parliamentary hopefuls, with some commending their incarceration and others resorting to sarcasm instead.

FACTBOX

• Number of registered voters: 2,272,182, including 1,093,318 men and 1,178,864 women

• Number of local electoral districts: 45

• 70 per cent of eligible voters residing in the Kingdom registered for the polls

• 1,425 candidates are competing in the parliament race, including 191 women

• Around 37,000 workers are involved in election procedures on poll day, including 4,500 volunteers

• A total of 7,013 local observers are monitoring the polls, while nine international missions and 13 bodies have 493 observers

• There are 1,484 polling and counting centres

• Of the total 150 seats, 27 Lower House seats are allocated for the national district and 123 seats are allocated for the local districts, including 15 in the women’s quota

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