On the occasion of presenting the suggested constitutional amendments by the Royal Committee on Constitutional Review
14 August 2011
(Translated from Arabic)
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate
Members of the Royal Committee on Constitutional Review,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you,
Blessed be the souls of the noble Jordanians and the father of the Constitution, His Majesty the late King Talal, who wrote our great Constitution.
The recommendations concerning provisions of our Constitution that have been presented here today to me is solid proof of Jordan's ability to revitalise itself and its legislation and approach the future with a vision of social and political reform, the foundation of which is wider public participation, the separation between the branches of government and a clear definition of the responsibilities of each of these branches in a manner that truly reflects the Hashemite tradition and good governance in state administration. I extend my thanks and appreciation to the president and members of the committee who carried out the constitutional review and suggested the amendments.
In this context, we should point out the set of ideas and proposals presented by this respected committee, in whose experience and knowledge we trust. These suggested amendments maintain and enhance the balance among the powers though effective constitutional mechanisms. And because we believe in the protection of the Constitution that we have sworn to preserve, one of the major proposals is the establishment of a constitutional court to rule on the constitutionality of legislation and consolidate the judiciary's role as the authority that safeguards the constitutionality of legislation.
At the same time, we also wish to highlight the new form of relationship between governments and Parliament in accordance with the proposals that ensure the balance between the government and the Lower House and by which the dissolution of the Lower House is tied to the immediate resignation of the government. The proposals also suggest that governments can no longer issue temporary laws except in times of war and natural catastrophes and in cases of financial expenditures that cannot be postponed. In addition, it is proposed that an independent national commission oversee parliamentary elections, while vesting in the judiciary the exclusive authority to look into electoral contestations and the trial of ministers.
To reinforce the role of youth in public and parliamentary life, the minimum age of candidacy for the Lower House has been lowered to 25 years, and thus, activism within political parties, professional associations and unions becomes an integral part of our national political culture. By establishing such liberties in the Constitution, we hope to institutionalise citizen activism and effective public participation in the legislative process as well as the formation of governments so that we can move from a phase of sloganeering to opening channels of activism and real life engagement in political parties, unions or youth movements. We need to practice this within the framework of an institutionalised political process that respects the rotation of power through parliamentary governments and a modern election process in which political parties compete on the basis of national platforms.
It should also be emphasised here that our relentless endeavours to consolidate balance and equity between the authorities are conditional on people's willingness to join political parties that express themselves and their policies at the ballot box. These are the fundamentals of parliamentary democracies.
With the completion of this step, we assert that the roadmap of political reform will be achieved within a timeframe that observes institutional processes and the existing constitutional channels, and no later than the fourth quarter of this year.
Priority in terms of legislation at this stage will be given to the conclusion of constitutional amendments, the recommendations of which have been presented to you today. Amending the Constitution will proceed in accordance with the appropriate constitutional processes and within a timeframe we hope would not exceed one month and that gives the legislative branch the ability to proceed with the review and adoption of political legislation, namely the political parties and election laws, which will have passed through a process of preparation and drafting that reflects the popular will and national consensus.
When these laws are endorsed, along with the municipalities and the teachers' association laws, Jordan will have accomplished most of the legislative infrastructure required for an institutional reform process that ensures an engagement of the grassroots, political parties and unions, Parliament and government that lives up to national ambitions and expectations.
We have ordered this review of the Constitution’s provisions and some amendments thereto in the belief that it is my responsibility and duty towards my people in meeting their aspirations and for the good of the present and the future. What is needed now is that all powers and institutions, whether partisan, unionist or popular, engage and invest in this reform process in order to translate into action programmes.
After the Municipalities Law is enacted, municipal elections must be held as soon as possible.
Today, we present Jordanians, both our present and future generations, with these historic constitutional revisions and amendments which reflect the high level of political and legal maturity among Jordanians who are bracing for the centennial of their state; a state that was built on the values of freedom, unity and equality.
Your blessed efforts have paid off, as they are reflected in the legacy of the grandfathers and fathers and the aspirations of the children who are heading confidently towards the future to build the New Jordan in the face of challenges and on the principles of justice and equality. We will realise that in words and in deeds, a genuine achievement that will be a source of pride for all.
Finally, I pray that God Almighty keep Jordan a free, strong and safe country and give us the will and the strength to protect our country as a haven of freedom, justice and human dignity.
Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you.