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Senate panel endorses constitutional amendments

By JT - Apr 28,2016 - Last updated at Apr 28,2016

The Senate Legal Committee discusses amendments to the Constitution during a meeting on Thursday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — The Senate's legal committee on Thursday endorsed the draft constitutional amendments as sent by the Lower House during a meeting chaired by Senate President Faisal Fayez, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

Fayez said the amendments show that the Kingdom is marching steadily towards political reform, embodied by the formation of parliamentary, partisan governments, based on a clearly defined vision.

The Lower House on Wednesday passed the constitutional amendments that gave new powers to the King and allowed citizens with dual nationalities to occupy senior public posts and parliamentary seats with a sweeping majority.

As reworded by the Council of Ministers, a new paragraph was added to Article 40 of the Constitution to read: “Despite what is stated in Paragraph A, the King shall exercise his powers individually and appoint the Crown Prince, the Regent, Senate president and members, and members of the Constitutional Court, president of the Higher Judicial Council, the army’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff and the General Intelligence Department and Gendarmerie Department directors.”

The Cabinet also reworded Article 50 of the Constitution, removing the death of the prime minister as one of the cases when the government has to immediately resign.

The amendments also changed Article 96 of the Constitution, extending the term of the House speaker to two calendar years instead of one.

The Council of Ministers removed a paragraph from Article 75 of the Constitution under which persons with a dual nationality are banned from becoming MPs, senators, ministers or senior officials.

Responding to critics of the latest amendments, the third changes to the Constitution over the last five years, Fayez said Morocco, a kingdom with a "deep-rooted partisan experience", has similarly given its king the sole power to appoint army and security chiefs, in addition to other senior public posts, Petra reported.

The Senate president stressed that the amendments guarantee the separation of powers and ensure that military and security institutions are not subject to the whims of one single political party.

Fayez, a former prime minister and Lower House speaker, cited several legal opinions that affirmed the constitutional amendments did not violate the current Constitution or contradict it.

 

Even if the amendments allow the King to appoint leaders of security and military bodies without the recommendation of the prime minister or the concerned ministers, that does not relieve ministers from their responsibilities, since the executive authority has the overall mandate, Fayez said. 

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