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TMCNet:  Elections commission criticises government 'inaction' over illegal campaigning

[December 04, 2012]

Elections commission criticises government 'inaction' over illegal campaigning

AMMAN, Dec 04, 2012 (Jordan Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Independent Elections Commission (IEC) on Monday criticised the government for not taking punitive measures against violations of the Elections Law that take the form of illegal early campaigning.

Dozens of names of Parliament hopefuls, intending to run for the January 23 polls, appear on daily newspapers or news websites and via commercials on local satellite channels announcing them as the sole candidates of their tribes or families, an IEC official said.

"We in the IEC are fed up with such practices and with the government's carelessness towards them," IEC Spokesperson Hussein Bani Hani told The Jordan Times on Monday.

He stressed that the concerned official agencies must "do something" in this regard, before "it is too late", warning that "turning a blind eye" to these actions would harm the credibility of the polls.

The candidacy period starts on December 22 and continues for three days. The IEC then sets the legal period for campaigning.

Over the past few days, an increasing number of potential candidates have been posting dozens of advertisements on news websites, newspapers and satellite channels, Bani Hani said.

The Parliament hopefuls claim in such advertisements that they have an overall tribal consensus on their nomination, or state that they have decided to run for the elections, requesting the support of their relatives and friends.

The Ministry of Public Works and Housing, the Greater Amman Municipality and other municipalities across the Kingdom in addition to the Audiovisual Commission and the Press and Publications Department are all responsible for monitoring any illegal campaigning practices, Bani Hani said.

"They must apply strict measures to prevent any further campaigning attempts for the elections by any person at this stage of the electoral process," he noted, stressing that under its law, the IEC has to inform the concerned agencies of the violations but cannot take any further measures.

Hence, the IEC has sent several letters to the concerned agencies urging them to intervene and put an end to such practices, but the agencies, Bani Hani said, are yet to make a move.

Two weeks ago, the IEC addressed Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour's office, highlighting such violations and the apparent negligence of official agencies, but the situation remain unchanged.

"The IEC condemns such violations and urges the government to protect the elections from these practices," Bani Hani said.

Meanwhile, certain candidates or political groups planning to field candidates on the national list have already set up their campaign headquarters, renting the buildings and hiring people to work for them in the next few weeks, the spokesperson added.

"We are preparing in advance as we have only one month for campaigning," a Parliament hopeful planning to lead a list told The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity, adding that he has already rented 16 offices as campaign centres.

Under the Elections Law's mixed electoral system, each voter will have two votes, one at the district level and another designated for a 27-seat closed proportional list at the national level.

___ (c)2012 the Jordan Times (Amman, Jordan) Visit the Jordan Times (Amman, Jordan) at www.jordantimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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