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Jordanian opposition doubts pledge of fair poll

Jordanian opposition doubts pledge of fair poll
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Jordan goes to the polls on Tuesday, in a general election that is expected to maintain the political status quo.

Some 940 candidates, including 200 women, will contest 110 seats. The poll is expected to keep parliament in the hands of tribal, centrist and pro-government MPs.

The transparency of the ballot has been called into question by the main opposition party, the Islamic Action Front, the IAF, which is the political arm of the international Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is unhappy with a political system that severely underrepresents constituencies in the cities, where most of the country’s 5.6 million people live and where the IAF is most popular.

It has fielded 22 candidates under the slogan “Islam is the solution” and is focused on winning key strongholds in heavily-populated urban areas.

But many political experts consider that it will have difficulty just holding on to the 17 seats it had in the outgoing parliament. In July, the IAF boycotted local elections, claiming they were rigged.

King Abdullah has urged a high turnout but the election has failed to inspire many Jordanians. They say they have no faith in a parliament that is seen as a rubber stamp for unpopular government laws restricting personal liberties.

The king has extensive powers; he appoints governments, approves legislation and is able to dissolve parliament.