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Youth alliance aims to monitor election promises

By Sawsan Tabazah - Jun 26,2016 - Last updated at Jun 26,2016

AMMAN — Thousands of young Jordanians have joined an alliance to monitor the election promises of candidates in the upcoming parliamentary polls, slated for September 20. 

Youth volunteers will monitor promises made by candidates, and hold elected lawmakers accountable for them in the next parliament, said Mohammad Zawahrah, the founder and coordinator of the Shaghaf alliance. 

The alliance, which takes its name from the Arabic word for “passion”, will not monitor the electoral process itself, or the political content of candidate’s electoral campaigns, Zawahrah told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

Volunteers in every governorate are making lists of local and national demands to create a national pact, in cooperation with specialists in women’s affairs, elections and development as well as other fields, Zawahrah explained. 

Candidates will be given an opportunity to sign the pact and to commit to accomplishing local and national demands, he said.

The Shaghaf alliance will support the candidates who sign the pact as they will have demonstrated their support for the demands of youths, the activist said, adding that the alliance will also organise public debates with prospective MPs. 

But the alliance’s main work will come after the vote, Zawahrah said, explaining that the youth group will hold MPs accountable for their election promises in the new parliament. 

Shaghaf has also formed committees to handle media, legal affairs and research, among other areas. 

The alliance will collect data about MPs, including their positions, legislative roles and participation, and present this data to their constituencies, Zawahrah said. 

The 29-year-old from Zarqa said he founded the alliance after researching the attendance records and legislative performance of MPs in his constituency.

“Some of them only attended six or seven sessions” and some had not raised any questions in Parliament, said Zawahrah. 

The activist said he initially approached the Zarqa Municipality, which approved holding the alliance's first meeting in Zarqa, but after enthusiasm for the idea from around the Kingdom, he expanded it to cover the whole of Jordan.

“The league has more than 4,200 volunteers from around the Kingdom, most of them in their early twenties,” Zawahrah said.

The volunteers were motivated to join Shaghaf because of their disappointment with previous parliaments and the weakness of youth involvement in parliamentary processes, he explained. 

Around 38 per cent of the volunteers are female, and all volunteers “are politically mature and well educated”, he added.

Shaghaf is an independent alliance and all its meetings and initiatives are self-financed, the founder noted.

 

“We are not sponsored by anyone and we don’t want to receive any financial sponsorship,” he said. 

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