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At least 16 candidates withdraw from parliament races

By Khaled Neimat - Jan 02,2013 - Last updated at Jan 02,2013

AMMAN — At least 16 candidates who registered to compete in the January 23 parliamentary elections have withdrawn from the race, while more are expected to pull out before election day, the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) )said on Wednesday.

The IEC will announce the total number of withdrawn candidates on Thursday, IEC spokesperson Hussein Bani Hani said, expecting the total to exceed 20.

According to IEC figures, the commission has accepted 699 candidacy applications at the district level and 61 applications to compete at the national level.

Bani Hani also said the commission would “deal with” candidates said to be holders of dual nationalities or even non-Jordanians.

In a report issued on Wednesday, the civil alliance to monitor the elections (Rasid) claimed to have received information that certain candidates were non-Jordanians or held dual nationalities, in violation of Article 10 of the 2012 Elections Law.

The report by the coalition of some 50 civil society groups also mentioned violations to campaign regulations and expressed concern over vote buying and “political money”.

Bani Hani reaffirmed that there would be “no more illiterate voting” in this election; voters who claim that they cannot read or write will have to select a photo of the candidate or the logo of the list they wish to vote for.

In past elections, voters who claimed to be illiterate were allowed to speak their vote aloud, which critics said facilitated vote buying and undermined the secrecy of the ballot.

In its report, Rasid called on the IEC to post the names and logos of the lists including the order of the names in each list to avoid any confusion or ambiguity, which Bani Hani said the commission would do on Thursday after having resolved the issue of the “Saddam Hussein” list.

A national list named after former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was required to change its name after the IEC said it violated rules issued by the commission last week, prohibiting lists named after individuals or specific regions in a manner that fuels sectarian or regional bigotry.

The decision was appealed in court but upheld, and the list received IEC approval after changing its name to “Sharaf Al Ummah” (Honour of the Nation).

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