April 27, 2013

JORDAN: The Muslim Brotherhood, Independents And Leftists Unite Ranks To Form A National Popular Movement Council Opposition Political Party.

The Jordan Times
written by Staff
Sunday April 28, 2013

AMMAN — The Muslim Brotherhood, independents and leftists on Tuesday took the first step toward launching a national council to confront what they describe as decision makers’ “reversal” on political reform pledges.

In the first so-called national reform congress, Islamists and representatives of 35 reform coalitions, tribal and political forces discussed ways to unite a protest movement that some say remains “fractured” over a year-and-a-half after its inception.

“Today marks a new beginning, a new movement, and a renewed drive to arrive at true political and economic reform the Jordanian people deserve,” Salem Fallahat, former overall leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, told The Jordan Times.

During the meeting, held at the Muslim Brotherhood’s Amman headquarters, independents and the Kingdom’s largest opposition movement agreed to form a National Popular Movement Council: an umbrella organisation to coordinate pro-reform activities and serve as an alternative to what they describe as a “fraudulent parliament”.

“You are the true parliament; you are true representatives of the Jordanian people,” Muslim Brotherhood Overall Leader Hamam Saeed send in an address to attendees.

The various political and social forces say the organisation will move beyond their differing political ideologies and be built upon common reform goals: an elections law based on proportional representation and constitutional reform leading to the formation of elected governments and protections against Parliament’s dissolution.

If formed as planned, the coalition will become the largest union of Jordanian political and social forces since the start of the Arab Spring early last year.

Activists say the council’s formation is an attempt to revive a stalled pro-reform movement that they admit has fractured over the past several months due to differences over the Syrian crisis and “intervention by security forces”.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the political activists discussed several other proposals, such as grouping the grass-roots popular movements into northern, central and southern regions, taking united stances on political issues, drafting an economic policy and raising the protest movement’s core message from “the people are the source of authority” to “the people are the authority”.

“The next generation will be the ones who lead the country and if we are successful, they will be the decision makers,” said Abdul Rahman Dweiri of the Northern Popular Movement.

One of the first tasks of the planned council will be to study a potential united boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections should MPs and authorities fail to introduce “drastic” changes to the current draft elections law, activists say.

Participants from various popular movements also called for the formation of “peoples’ courts” — grass-roots committees of lawyers and former judicial officials — to place MPs and former and current officials on “trial” for suspected corruption.

During the gathering, tribal activists called for constitutional reform to transform Jordan into a constitutional monarchy, changing the Monarch’s role from “the source of authority” to “head of state”.

The Islamist movement also took advantage of the gathering to stress that it has no intention to exert its influence over popular movements.

“We are not here to lead you, we are here today to stand with you. Our voice is your voice, and your role is our role,” Saeed said.

Despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s reassurances, activists say “serious reservations” remain.

The Jordanian Popular Movement Coordination Committee, a coalition of seven of the largest popular movements, announced that it would not join the new umbrella organisation in order to maintain the movements’ “independence”.

“We want to ensure that popular movements are actual movements on the ground and not fronts for personal or political agendas,” said Mohammed Abbadi, member of the committee’s executive board and representative of the Salt Popular Movement.

Despite reservations, representatives of various pro-reform coalitions and the Islamist movement pledged to forge ahead with the union, launching discussions on the council’s formation and bylaws late Tuesday night.

The congress is expected to convene again next month.

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