Jordan to Introduce Democratic Reform (AP) By JAMAL HALABY AMMAN, JORDAN 01/27/05 12:37 AM)
AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS
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AMMAN, Jordan - King Abdullah II, while urging citizens in
neighboring Iraq to vote in this weekend´s elections, said he would
introduce some limited democratic reforms in his kingdom.
In a televised speech, Abdullah said he wanted to "address all our
brethren in Iraq, of all groups and spectrums, and call on them to
take part in the elections to be held in a few days."
The king then unveiled plans to establish elected councils to oversee
development in Jordan. He did not explain how the new councils would
work with existing local authorities, half of whose members are
appointed by the government.
"I assert here that political development should start at the grass
roots, then move up to decision-making centers, and not vice versa,"
the king said.
Abdullah spoke only hours after President Bush urged him at a
Washington press conference to "make sure that democracy continues to
advance in Jordan."
Jordanian government officials, insisting on anonymity, stressed that
Abdullah´s announcement was not linked to Bush´s call because the
king had recorded his speech much earlier.
Bush made the statement in reply to a question on whether he would
condemn the Jordanian government for arresting a man and charging him
with slander after he delivered a lecture called "Why We Boycott
Regarding the vote in neighboring Iraq, Abdullah´s reference to "all
groups" appeared to be an implicit appeal to Sunni Muslims who have
threatened to boycott Sunday´s polls.
"The elections are the only realistic way for the Iraqis to achieve
security and stability, rebuild their country, and ensure that Iraq
regains its natural and special status within the region," added
Abdullah, whose country is concerned that Shiite victory in the polls
may ultimately lead to the emergence of an Iranian-style strict
Islamic state in Iraq.
Abdullah angered Iran last month, when he warned of a possible Shiite
hegemony in the region. In an interview with the Washington Post, the
king accused Shiite Muslim-dominated Iran of trying to influence the
elections in Iraq, where Shiite candidates are expected to fare well.
Since ascending to the throne five years ago, Abdullah has sought to
press ahead with reforms introduced by his late father, King Hussein,
who died in 1999. A computer and Internet enthusiast, Abdullah wants
to make Jordan a regional information technology hub. He also wants
to see his nation geared toward open-market economy and globalization
and has introduced relevant legislation in recent years. (Copyright
2005 Associated Press. 01/27/05)
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