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Six House blocs emerge

By Khaled Neimat - Feb 06,2013 - Last updated at Feb 06,2013

AMMAN — With only a few days left until the 17th Parliament’s extraordinary session commences on Sunday, deputies were still busy on Wednesday trying to form political blocs to push their own candidates for the Lower House speakership.

Six blocs, which include 131 of the total 149 deputies, had been officially formed in parliament by Wednesday, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

One member of the 150-seat Lower House elected on January 23, Amman’s 2nd District Deputy Mohammad Mahseiri, died of a heart attack last week.

Khalil Atiyeh (Amman, 1st District) formed the Watan (homeland) bloc with 36 MPs, including former deputy speaker Atef Tarawneh.

Watan members held their first meeting on Wednesday, with expectations that they will nominate Tarawneh for the speakership.

Also on Wednesday, Deputy Amjad Majali announced that he formed the “Free Pledge” bloc, with 19 lawmakers.

The recently formed leftist Democratic Gathering bloc, headed by Yousef Qorneh, lost seven of its members, leaving it with only 25 deputies.

The bloc is still working on building broader coalitions with various deputies in a plan to nominate MP Mustafa Shneikat for the speakership.

Other newly formed blocs include the 10-member National Union bloc led by Deputy Mousa Khalaileh, the 17-member Islamic Centrist Party bloc led by Mohammad Al Haj and the 16-member Future bloc, Petra reported.

With 91 MPs serving for the first time under the Dome, former Lower House speaker Abdul Karim Dughmi on Wednesday said veteran deputies were being sidelined in the speakership race.

During a meeting with fellow MPs, Dughmi complained about the “rift” between veteran MPs and first-time deputies.

“Such an atmosphere should not guide us when it comes to selecting the Lower House speaker,” he said.

Parliament sources told The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity that first-time deputies were pushing for a “new face” to take over as speaker, instead of former speakers Dughmi and Saed Hayel Srour.

Besides Dughmi and Srour, deputies vying for speakership so far include Shneikat and Haj.

Other potential candidates are Tarawneh and Majali.

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