AMMAN — The Muslim Brotherhood renewed its threat to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections on Tuesday, giving authorities a “last chance” to rewrite the controversial elections law recently passed by both Houses of Parliament.
In a wide-ranging press conference held at the headquarters of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the Brotherhood’s political arm, senior Islamists reiterated their rejection of a law they claims “robs citizens of their right to a representative parliament”.
“We completely reject this law and hold all parties involved with its drafting responsible for its social and economic ramifications,” IAF Secretary General Hamzah Mansour said.
Islamists reiterated their past criticism of the law, endorsed by the Senate on Sunday, which they describe as a “carbon copy” of the one-person, one-vote electoral system activists say has limited the representation of political parties and has resulted in successive “rubber-stamp” parliaments.
The IAF echoed the criticisms of various political groups and observers over articles in the legislation that limit citizens to one vote at the local district level and allocate 17 out of the chamber’s 140 seats to parties through proportional representation at the national level.
“It is impossible to hold free elections under these conditions,” Mansour said.
Although the Islamist movement refused to confirm their anticipated boycott of the elections, expected to take place before the end of the year, they stressed that any hope of ensuring their participation in upcoming elections “lies in the hands of the King”.
“After this law, our last hope lies in the hands of the King, who can reject this law and form a national salvation government to overcome the various crises facing the country and hold a true dialogue over the legislation.”
Revamping the elections law alone, however, will not guarantee the presence of IAF candidates on ballots later this year.
Mansour stressed that the elections law remains only one of the preconditions outlined by the Muslim Brotherhood last fall, which include constitutional reform ensuring the formation of parliamentary governments, an elected Senate and protecting the Lower House against dissolution.
“The current focus on the elections law does not mean we have abandoned citizens’ unanimous demands for reform.”
The Muslim Brotherhood leaders also criticised the government for a series of “dangerous economic policies”, referring to recent increases in fuel and electricity prices, and urged it to take a stronger stance on the Syrian crisis.
Observers called Tuesday’s press conference a last-minute bid by the IAF to pressure authorities to revisit the elections law ahead of an emergency Muslim Brotherhood shura council meeting on Thursday, during which the Islamist movement is to finalise its position on the upcoming polls.
Activists say political parties, grass-roots popular movements and the Muslim Brotherhood have already reached an initial consensus to forego the parliamentary elections and have entered advanced talks over a national boycott campaign.
According to sources within the Islamist movement, Thursday’s shura council meeting will be an attempt to sway the Muslim Brotherhood’s minority “moderate camp” to support the decision to boycott taken by hardline overall leader Hamam Saeed earlier this week.
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