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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
King loyalists win Jordan poll
Jordanian women queue to vote at a polling station
The elections have been postponed for almost two years

Independent candidates loyal to Jordan's King Abdullah have won a convincing victory in Tuesday's parliamentary elections.

They won two-thirds of the 110 seats while the main Islamist opposition party won 17 of the 30 seats it contested, final results showed.

The Islamists complained they would have won more seats but for voting irregularities.

Interior Minister Qaftan Majali rejected the allegation, pointing to what he said was the high number of votes won by the Islamists.

However, he acknowledged that some Jordanian voters were detained on suspicion of ballot box irregularities.

No women candidates were directly elected, but the six with the highest number of votes will be appointed to parliament.

The poll was the first to be held under King Abdullah II, who dissolved the last parliament two years ago.

JORDANIAN ELECTIONS
Population: 5.4m, with 2.84m voters
Parliament elected every four years
Voting age: 18 and over
Seats: 110 - 92 Muslims; nine Christians; six women; three Circassians
Candidates: 765

The new parliament is due to meet in the second week of July.

This parliament will not give the king any headaches, says the BBC's Heba Saleh in the capital, Amman.

For the most part, independent candidates represent the country's major tribes and clans which are traditionally close to the royal family and form the bedrock of Jordanian society.

But the election of 17 Islamist candidates will ensure a degree of debate and perhaps some limited pressure on the government, our correspondent says.

Tribal slant

More than 760 candidates were competing for the 110 seats in an expanded legislature.

More than two million Jordanians were registered to vote, and a public holiday had been declared to encourage a high turnout.

King Abdullah
The king likes to be seen as a moderniser

Initial results showed that turnout - 58% overall - was low in Amman, but higher in other parts of the country.

This was higher than that of elections in 1993 and 1997.

The number of seats has been increased from 80 to 110, the voting age has been reduced by one year to 18.

The new parliament was elected according to rules which favour the tribal areas and reduce representation for the cities, our correspondent says.

That is where most of the country's Palestinian inhabitants live and they tend to vote for Islamist candidates.

The king has been concerned that anger over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and the US invasion of Iraq could fuel support for Jordan's Islamist opposition.

Despite the existence of parliament, the king - who succeeded his later father King Hussein in 1999 - makes all the key decisions and is not obliged to appoint a prime minister from the majority party in parliament.

The elections were the first in six years, after the king dissolved parliament at the end of its four-year term in 2001 and repeatedly postponed elections because popular sympathies were swept away by the Israeli-Palestinian violence in the neighbouring West Bank.

More than half of Jordan's population is of Palestinian origin.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"Most Jordanians vote along tribal, not political lines"



SEE ALSO:
Jordan ready for delayed election
16 Jun 03  |  Middle East
Country profile: Jordan
24 May 03  |  Country profiles


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