AMMAN — The Lower House elected heads and rapporteurs for eight out of the 14 permanent committees on Tuesday, before holding a closed-door session to write and endorse a response to His Majesty King Abdullah’s Speech from the Throne.
Some deputies who attended the meeting said that this was the “first time ever” the Lower House has held a closed-door meeting for a response to the King’s speech.
Commenting on the meeting, the Watan bloc’s (27 MPs) spokesperson, MP Kholoud Khatatbeh, defended the move, saying the Lower House does not want anything to be published before they send the response to the King.
“It is protocol; it has nothing to do with politics,” she said.
The guards at the gates of the Parliament building did not allow anyone in, including the media, saying they were implementing instructions they received from the House’s Permanent Office.
According to several deputies, who spoke on condition of anonymity, nothing new was discussed during this meeting, but the MPs focused mainly on the content of the response to the King’s speech, which opened the 17th Parliament’s non-ordinary session on February 10.
Members of the Arab and International Affairs Committee elected Bassam Khalifa Manasir (Balqa, 1st District) as head and Talal Sharif (Amman, 1st District) as rapporteur, while the Administrative Committee elected Ahmad Hmeisat (Amman, 4th District) and Qusai Dmeisi (Zarqa, 4th District) as rapporteur.
The Legal Committee elected Mustafa Yaghi (Balqa, 4th District) as its president and Mohammad Freihat (Ajloun, 2nd District) as rapporteur, while members of the Financial and Economic Committee voted for Mwafaq Dmour (Karak, 1st District) as head and Nassar Qaisi (Amman, 6th District) as rapporteur.
The Education, Youth and Culture Committee elected Bassam Btoush (Karak, 3rd District) as president and Abdul Karim Darabseh (Irbid, 4th District) as rapporteur, while members of the Agriculture and Water Committee named Ibrahim Shahahdeh (Tafileh, 1st District) as president and Saad Zawaldeh (Southern Badia) as rapporteur.
The Energy and Mineral Resources Committee elected Mohammad Dawaimeh as head and Bassel Malkawi (Irbid, 5th District) as rapporteur; members of the Public Services, Tourism and Antiquities Committee selected Adnan Farajat (Maan, 3rd District) as chairman and Nidal Hiari (Balqa, 1st District) as rapporteur.
Meanwhile, consultations with Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh over the selection of a new prime minister will resume on Thursday at Basman Palace.
Tarawneh is slated to start Thursday’s meeting with the Future bloc, and continue with the other blocs, moving from largest to smallest.
After he consults with all blocs, Tarawneh will confer with independent MPs.
The first round of consultations began on Monday, when the Royal Court chief held talks with the Watan bloc and the Democratic Gathering bloc (24 members).
The two blocs did not recommend names for the next prime minister, but focused on the government’s agenda.
In a separate development, the Watan bloc members signed a memorandum on Tuesday, calling for amending the Lower House rules of procedures.