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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King calls for combating election crimes
Amman, 8 January 2013

His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday stressed the need to exert serious efforts to combat vote buying and other election crimes, warning of the phenomenon’s negative effects on the integrity of the elections and “the future of all Jordanians.”

During a meeting with the president and commissioners of the Independent Elections Commission (IEC), King Abdullah stressed that combating political money is a “national duty” and everyone’s responsibility, rather than a single party’s.

His Majesty also commended IEC efforts to ensure that the January 23 parliamentary elections are conducted in the highest levels of fairness, transparency and neutrality.

He commended the commission for taking the necessary steps in record time according and in line with the best international standards.

The King also said that the presence of local and international agencies to observe the elections is an important factor to ensure fairness and transparency.

During the meeting, IEC President Abdul Ilah Khatib noted that the monitoring body, which was established under a Royal Decree and a provision added to the Constitution, has been working to build a reputation as a highly professional and neutral entity that employs the best international practices in election management.

Khatib said the IEC seeks to be “up to the King’s expectations and to begin a new era in Jordan’s political life.”

Khatib said the IEC has carried out necessary preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections, indicating that the board has endorsed a number of executive measures regulating various election stages, from registration to ballot sorting to results announcement.

He noted that the board of commissioners will refer to the King a detailed report on the IEC’s experience in holding elections, along with ideas and suggestions to improve future polls and the current Elections Law.

Khatib said the IEC had managed in a short time to provide the necessary training for the commission’s staff, describing the training programme as “ambitious.”

The agency also focused on providing voters with as much information as possible to educate them on all procedures and arrangements related to the process, so that they can exercise their right on elections day without any obstacles, the IEC chief said, adding that efforts will continue over the coming days to ensure a well organised and smooth vote.

Khatib added that the IEC has been open to all sectors of society and was keen on building a fruitful partnership with all stakeholders, in order to enhance people’s confidence in the commission and the steps it takes to protect voters’ right to free choice.

“The commission always looks forward to Your Majesty’s support and guardianship, especially when it comes to efforts to ensure the integrity of the election and deter any attempts to hinder its work by evading or violating the law and resorting to illegal ways to influence voters’ free choice,” he said.

Khatib said the IEC’s board of commissioners and staff members “pledge in front of Your Majesty to continue their relentless work to ensure the success of all nationwide efforts aimed at keeping the election process on the right track and thus encouraging voters to participate in the polls as part of their responsibility as citizens.”

The head commissioner pointed out that his agency is also handling “with utter openness” the work of external monitors who will be observing the elections after they were accredited “as organisations rather than as individuals.”

“We encourage Jordanian observers to be at every ballot box, because we believe that they are our partners. They help us detect errors as a preliminary step to correcting them,” Khatib noted.

He added that the IEC has volunteers from 22 universities and some civil society organisations “who will be at every centre to offer help.”

“No restrictions were set on their [the volunteers’] work. We have nothing to hide and the entire process is open for monitoring,” he stressed.

His Majesty listened to a briefing by the head of operations at the IEC Ghaleb Shamaileh, who said the IEC has concluded all necessary preparations.

Shamaileh said voters will have to display their voter identification cards in addition to their civil identification cards. Each voter will have his or her name associated with only one ballot box, at one voting centre, he said, noting that the box and centre are specified on the voter ID.

Among the IEC’s preparations, Shamaileh said, is mandating the use of election ink for the first time, and placing two ballot boxes in the voting room, one for the local district and another for the national list.

He said that there will be two different ballot papers, one for the local district that has the name and picture of the candidates running in that constituency, and another for the national list that has the number, name and symbol of the tickets.

The IEC undertook procedures for illiterate voters, allowing them to mark the photograph of the candidate or the symbol of the national ticket they wish to vote for, highlighting other procedures that would make voting easier for persons with disabilities.

He said that both literate and illiterate voters will be able to cast their vote in the same manner, to maintain the secrecy of the polls.

Amongst the new elements introduced by the Elections Law, Shamaileh cited the fact that the validity of the elections can be contested through the courts instead of by the emerging parliament.

He said that the Kingdom is divided into 45 local constituencies and one national constituency, adding that there will be 1,484 voting centres and 4,069 ballot boxes.

He also said that the final electoral list includes 2,272,182 voters, 1,093,318 of whom are men and 1,178,864 women, constituting 70 per cent of the eligible voters residing in Jordan.

Candidates running for the local districts reached 661, of whom 112 are women. There are also 61 national lists with 823 candidates, of whom 85 are women, Shamaileh said.

He pointed to the IEC’s preparations for elections day. He said the IEC has used 170 trainers to train 32,000 people, adding that a security plan is in place to protect the voting process in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior.

He also said that the head of each electoral committee will announce the names of winning candidates, and the head of the special committee will announce the names of the winning women and the national list winners.

The results will become final after they are endorsed by the IEC’s board of commissioners.

Head of the IT department at the IEC, Hisham Hajaya, talked about the connection between the voting and counting processes, saying that all voting and counting centres are linked to the main IT centre at the IEC.

He said measures were taken to ensure continuous connectivity and maintain the highest level of security during data transfer.

Established last year, the IEC is supervising the elections as a financially and administratively independent commission. The IEC supervises the election process through all its stages, and is responsible for any other elections decided by the Cabinet.