Independent Elections Commission spokesman Hussein Bani Hani said as Jordan undergoes political strains and electoral reforms, about 1.3 million Jordanians went to the polls, representing 56.6% of registered voters. The Jordanians completed voting last Wednesday in a landmark election that one outside observer said was free of any violations. For the first time, the country has allowed observers. It was the first time that an independent election commission oversaw polling. In the 17th time Jordan has gone to the polls to elect a parliament since becoming a nation in 1946, Wednesday’s balloting was an election of firsts.
The head of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission in Jordan, David Martin praised measures taken by a newly created commission in managing the elections and said there were no violations. The said mission will hold a press conference by Friday morning. Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said, “These elections today are the culmination of a constitutional process, the beginning of a new phase of reforms. It is a continuing process.”
Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said on Wednesday, he had not yet submitted his resignation to King Abdullah II until elections are completed. Jordanians who are part of the Muslim Brotherhood were said to be boycotting the election, an action he described as not democratic, the state-run news agency Petra reported.
“Elections have been fairly smooth so far,” said David Martin, chief observer of the European Union Election Observing Mission. Some polling stations reported minor technical glitches, but there had been no “signs of intimidation,” he added.
Samih Maaytah, a government spokesman said, Wednesday’s balloting took place under the watchful eye of 47,000 police officers and another 7,000 election observers.
More than 3 million Jordanians were eligible to vote for candidates to the new 150-member House of Deputies, officials said. A field of more than 1,400 candidates vied for the seats.
A young Sri Lankan woman has been beheaded in Saudi Arabia amid much controversy. The former maid, Rizana Nafeek, was convicted in 2007 for the murder of Naif al-Quthaibi, a four month old baby. Saudi officials stated that Nafeek had killed the baby after an argument with its mother who she was working for, and that she had confessed to the murder.
Nafeek had argued that the confession was forced from her. Her supporters also say that she was given no personal legal representation and no assistance with the language and translation problems she had. International human rights groups had also got involved in the case as it emerged that she was only 17 years old at the time she was said to have committed the murder. Although this would mean that Nafeek and/or Sri Lankan employment agencies had made false documents to get her to work in Saudi Arabia, technically she would be classed as a child of 17. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch insist her execution is in violation of a UN Convention that Saudi Arabia had ratified – that for the Right of the Child.
The Sri Lankan government have strongly opposed the conviction and execution of Nafeek, which their foreign ministry said happened ‘despite all efforts at the highest level of government and the outcry of the people locally and internationally.’ There has been new debate about the economic conditions which mean many Sri Lankan people leave their home country to work abroad, mainly in the Middle East, where there is not sufficient safety and protection for domestic workers in particular. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) also announced ‘urgent’ laws are needed to properly cover domestic workers.