Jordan's Senate approves changes to constitution

A new clause aims to protect women 'from all forms of violence and discrimination'

GR13T5 Amman, Jordan -May 28, 2016: Roman amphitheatre in downtown with Amman cityscape at background *** Local Caption ***  ut24no-wtgw-amman.jpg

Jordan’s Senate on Tuesday approved amendments to the country's constitution that were passed by parliament earlier this month.

The constitutional changes leave most powers in the country with King Abdullah II and establish a new National Security Council, which will be headed by the monarch.

Parliament passed the changes by a majority of 104-8 on January 6 after a debate in which some pro-government deputies engaged in fist-fights with a few opposition MPs who criticised the changes as undemocratic.

The approval by the Senate, which is appointed directly by the king, is a ceremonial move. The amendments will now go to the monarch to be signed into law.

Jordan is experiencing an economic downturn and authorities intensified a crackdown on dissent in the last two years. King Abdullah said the amendments aim to "modernise" the country's political system.

The changes include a new election law that allows some candidates to run for parliament across districts, if they belong to political parties. A new clause aims to protect women “from all forms of violence and discrimination”.

The 130-member legislature mostly has ceremonial powers. It is dominated by tribes who mostly support the monarchy.

King Abdullah, who has reigned since 1999, appoints and dismisses governments, commands the military and controls foreign policy.

The proposed amendments make it harder for parliament to convene a vote of confidence in the government, requiring a motion for a vote to be approved by 25 per cent of members, instead of the current 7 per cent.

Updated: January 18, 2022, 12:00 PM