Jordan election victory for pro-government candidates

A man casts his ballot in Amman Jordan launched its democratic process in 1989

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Pro-government candidates have swept Jordan's parliamentary election, official results show, in a poll marked by violence and an opposition boycott.

The majority of the chamber's 120 seats will be filled by loyalists and tribal-linked candidates likely to continue King Abdullah's pro-Western policies.

The poll was boycotted by several groups, including the main opposition party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF).

Officials say turnout in Tuesday's poll was 53%, but the IAF disputes that.

The IAF boycotted the poll in protest at a new law which reduces seats from urban areas, while increasing representation from tribal areas which support King Abdullah.

IAF leader Hamzah Mansur said turnout did not exceed 30%, according to the group's estimate.

Mr Mansur told AP news agency that the new parliament was "worse than the last one because many won through their family connections and by spending money to buy votes that could have been given to the poor".

Some surprises

A number of former deputies were elected, including ex-Prime Minister Faisal al-Fayez and at least 20 MPs who had served as cabinet officials.

Jordanian riot police try to disperse members of two clans after they brawled in front of a polling station in Amman 9 November The were 53 violent incidents during Tuesday's voting, officials said

Reem Badran, an economist and daughter of a former prime minister, won a seat in Amman that is outside a quota system reserving 12 seats for women, boosting their number to 13.

One surprise victory was that of IAF member Ahmed Qudah, who defied the group's boycott of the parliamentary poll, but overall the Front's parliamentary presence is greatly diminished, says the BBC's Dale Gavlak in Amman.

Analysts said another surprise was the election of 80 candidates who are new to politics. There is hope that the new faces will bring fresh ideas for tackling the country's economic woes, our correspondent adds.

The vote comes as economic problems mean many Jordanians say they can no longer cope with ever-rising food prices and unemployment topping 13%.

'Diluted' votes

Polling was marred by clashes in some areas, and at least one person was killed in a shootout between supporters of rival candidates in the southern city of Karak.

In the capital, police had to use tear gas to disperse crowds of clashing political rivals.

An international monitoring group said the vote itself was credible, but criticised Jordan's electoral law.

"Jordan's new election law should strengthen representation for all Jordanians," the International Republican Institute was quoted as saying by AFP.

"The over-representation of rural districts is accentuated by the controversial single non-transferable vote system, thus further diluting the representation of urban voters."

About 2.5 million Jordanians were eligible to vote, with 763 candidates vying for a seat in the lower house of parliament.

The election follows a year of direct royal rule, after King Abdullah dissolved the previous parliament - which was widely accused of being ineffective - halfway through its four-year term.

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