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Arab World

Loyalists and independents dominate boycotted Jordan vote

Preliminary results suggest that tribal coalitions and independent candidates loyal to King Abdullah won around 90 percent of the seats in Jordan's lower house of parliament. A key opposition group boycotted the ballot.

Jordan's Independent Election Commission released preliminary results on Thursday for the country's election, pointing to clear dominance for candidates favoring the royal family.

The election commission put Wednesday's turnout at 56.5 percent of the some 2.2 million eligible voters, a higher figure than previously expected but one denounced as fraudulent by the opposition.

The election had been billed by King Abdullah as a key part of the reforms package that he introduced as the so-called Arab Spring gripped the Middle East from 2011.

"Today's results and transparency marks a news beginning for Jordan's political development," said Samih Maaytah, Jordanian government spokesman and minister of media affairs.

The initial results pointed to a combination of tribal leaders, pro-government candidates and independents securing around 90 percent of the 150 seats available in the lower house of parliament.

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan's largest single political body, had boycotted the election, along with several other political groups. The Brotherhood said on Thursday that it estimated turnout at around 25 percent and alleged there had been electoral fraud and vote-buying.

"The turnout does not make any sense. They could have done a better job to make people believe," Zaki Bani Rshied, deputy leader of the Brotherhood, told the AFP news agency.

"We have closely monitored the electoral process. Vote buying and fake voter cards were very clear. We will prove that our boycott was the right decision," Rshied said.

The election commission, meanwhile, said it had "nothing to hide," saying the ballot was "observed by Jordanians themselves and international monitors."

Jordan has a quota system reserving a minimum of 15 parliamentary seats for women, but the initial results pointed to only one female candidate - education advocate Maryam Luzi - winning representation in a straight fight.

Jordan's new parliament is currently scheduled to convene in February, taking over from the country's interim government.

King Abdullah said last month that the election would lead to the country's first ever parliamentary government. He set the proviso, however, that incoming lawmakers must form a majority coalition in order to take up this task.

msh/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)