Changes to constitution approved by Jordanian senate

Jordan's Senate adopted modifications to the country's constitution, providing King Abdullah II with most of the country's powers and creating a new National Security Council led by the King.

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Jordan’s Senate adopted modifications to the country’s constitution on Tuesday, after parliament’s approval earlier this month.

The constitutional amendments provide King Abdullah II with most of the country’s powers and create a new National Security Council led by the King.

Jordan’s parliament approved the modifications on January 6 by a vote of 104-8, after a discussion in which some pro-government deputies engaged in fistfights with a few opposition MPs who criticized the measures as undemocratic.

The Senate’s approval, which is appointed directly by the monarch, is purely ceremonial. The modifications will now be presented to the monarch for signature.

Jordan is undergoing economic hardship, and authorities have stepped up their assault on dissent during the previous two years. The revisions, King Abdullah II said, are intended to “modernize” the country’s political structure.

Among the reforms is a new election legislation that permits some people to run for parliament across districts provided they are affiliated with a political party. A new provision seeks to safeguard women “against all types of abuse and discrimination.” The 130-member legislature mostly exercises ceremonial authority. It is controlled by tribes that are mostly monarchist in nature.

King Abdullah II, who has ruled since 1999, chooses and dismisses administrations, commands the military and has influence over foreign affairs.

The proposed revisions make it more difficult for parliament to call a vote of confidence in the government by needing the approval of a motion for a vote by 25 percent of members, rather than the existing 7 percent.

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