Jordanian Senate approves changes to constitution

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Jordan’s Senate on Tuesday approved amendments to the country’s constitution that were passed by parliament earlier this month.

The constitutional changes leave most of the country’s powers to King Abdullah II and establish a new National Security Council, which will be headed by the monarch.

Parliament passed the changes by a majority of 104 to 8 on January 6 after a debate in which some pro-government MPs fought hard with a few opposition MPs who criticized the changes as undemocratic .

The approval by the Senate, which is appointed directly by the king, is a solemn gesture. The amendments will now go to the monarch to be signed into law.

Jordan is experiencing an economic downturn and authorities have stepped up a crackdown on dissent over the past two years. King Abdullah said the amendments aimed to “modernize” the country’s political system.

The changes include a new electoral law that allows certain candidates to run for parliament in all districts, if they belong to political parties. A new clause aims to protect women “from all forms of violence and discrimination”.

The 130-member legislature has primarily ceremonial powers. It is dominated by tribes that mostly support the monarchy.

King Abdallah, who has reigned since 1999, appoints and dismisses governments, commands the army and controls foreign policy.

The proposed amendments make it harder for parliament to call a vote of confidence in the government, requiring a vote motion to be approved by 25% of members, instead of the current 7%.

Updated: January 18, 2022, 12:00 p.m.

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