Opposition parties and activists on Friday launched an election boycott campaign with a series of rallies in various towns, urging citizens to forgo the upcoming parliamentary polls.
Leftists, Islamists and independent tribal activists marched in a series of demonstrations stretching across eight governorates, calling on authorities to suspend the elections and withdraw the Elections Law, which they described as “undemocratic” and a “setback” to the country’s reform drive.
In a so-called “Friday of refusal”, some 2,000 Islamists and leftists rallied in downtown Amman to mark the beginning of their boycott campaign and urge the authorities to implement widespread democratic reforms.
During the two-hour demonstration, participants called on authorities to withdraw a law they describe as a carbon-copy of the controversial one-person, one-vote electoral system, chanting “Scrap, scrap the Elections Law” and “We want an elections law that satisfies the young and old.”
Participants also warned of growing frustration over the pace of political reforms, chanting “Raghdan, don’t bet on Amman” and hoisting banners reading “No to 18 per cent” in reference to the amended Elections Law allocating 27 (or 18 per cent) of the Chamber’s 150 seats through proportional representation at the national level, well short of the opposition’s demands of 50 per cent.
The protesters linked arms and danced in circles chanting “United for reform, let the people live in peace” and “No going back, no surrender, reform or death”.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Islamist and independent activists rallied in Salt, Irbid, Mafraq, Karak, Shobak, Tafileh, Madaba and Aqaba to mark the launch of their boycott campaign, organisers said.
Friday’s protests came less than 48 hours after opposition political groups and independents announced their intention to boycott the upcoming polls in protest against the law and what they see as delays in political reforms.
The Muslim Brotherhood ended months of speculation late Thursday by announcing its intention to boycott the polls within hours of the Senate’s passage of the amended Elections Law.
Activists object to articles in the law limiting citizens to one vote at the local district level, which they claim maintains a one-person, one-vote electoral system that has produced as series of “rubber stamp” parliaments that have restricted the representation of political parties and candidates from smaller tribes.