Page last updated at 12:05 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Jordan's King Abdullah dissolves parliament

King Abdullah
King Abdullah's decree called for early elections, but did not name a date

Jordan's King Abdullah has dissolved the country's parliament halfway through its four-year term and called for early elections, state TV has said.

No reason was given in the royal edict, but the lower house had been accused of handling legislation ineptly.

Critics say that, since being elected in 2007, MPs have failed to address key issues like unemployment and poverty.

But opposition MPs said the government had dissolved parliament so it could pass legislation under emergency laws.

The Chamber of Deputies has the power to dismiss prime ministers and cabinets appointed by the king, and can veto government bills.

The cabinet recently failed to get approval for changes to the election law that would have further reduced the influence in parliament of the opposition Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Unknown date

"Clearly the government wants things its own way," Hamza Mansour, whose Islamic Action Front is the political arm of the Brotherhood and holds six seats in parliament, told the Associated Press.

Jordanian parliament (2007)
Constitutionally, the new chamber must convene within four months

In the last election in November 2007, the Islamic Action Front saw its number of seats in parliament fall from 17 to 6 as a result of the current election law, which reduced the representation of urban areas - traditional Islamist strongholds - in favour of rural areas, which subsequently elected independents loyal to the king.

In many tribal areas, each MP represents only 2,000-3,000 voters, compared with more than 90,000 voters per MP in the capital, Amman.

The royal decree, issued on Monday evening, told the government to organise early parliamentary elections, but did not name a date.

According to the constitution, the new chamber must convene within four months. However, MPs say the king could delay elections.

This was the second time King Abdullah has dissolved parliament since he acceded to the throne in 1999.

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