Jordan's King Dissolves Parliament, Calls Early Elections
Jordan's King Abdullah II dissolved parliament and called early elections on Thursday, the royal palace announced, according to AFP.
"The king has decided to dissolve the chamber of deputies from this Thursday and to call early elections," a statement quoted by the news agency said. It gave no date, but the monarch has said he wants polls to be held by the end of 2012.
The king’s announcement came several hours after the opposition Muslim Brotherhood said it was going ahead with its planned rally in central Amman on Friday by an estimated 50,000 supporters.
A demonstration in support of the king was called off over fears of unrest as it would have coincided with the Islamist rally, organizers told AFP.
"We have postponed indefinitely our demonstration scheduled at the same time as the Muslim Brotherhood's to avoid any problems," said Jihad al-Sheik, head of an Internet-based youth group that organized the event.
The cancellation came "after a request to that effect from the director of general security, Hussein al-Majali, MPs and tribal leaders" to prevent unrest, he said.
Around 200,000 people had been expected to turn up at the demonstration in Amman to show their support for the king's efforts to bring in reforms.
Numerous demonstrations have taken place in Jordan since January 2011 to call for political and economic reforms and demand an end to corruption. In response, King Abdullah said early elections would be held.
The Brotherhood, however, has said it would boycott the polls as it did in 2010 to protest against the lack of solid reforms, while calling for a parliamentary system where the prime minister is elected, rather than named by the king.
King Abdullah recently urged his country's Islamist opposition to take part in upcoming elections, despite their dissatisfaction with reforms.
He made the appeal in a rare interview on Jordan TV in July, as part of his attempt to engage with the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
AFP reported that Abdullah has ordered parliament to increase seats reserved for party candidates, urging the Islamists to take part in the polls.
MPs raised the number from 17 to 27, but failed to satisfy opposition groups.
"This elections law is not perfect. We all understand that. But there is no better consensus on an alternative. What is critical is that we keep going forward, and -- mark my words -- we will have a new parliament by the new year," the king told AFP in a recent interview.
"So I am telling the Muslim Brotherhood, you have a choice. To stay in the street or to help build the new democratic Jordan."