Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday opened the 17th Parliament’s ordinary session with a Speech from the Throne, in which he said Jordan will continue to build a model of development and reform that sets an example for the entire region.
“Jordan is continuing its quest to develop a regional reform model that is homegrown and based on a clear roadmap with specific reform milestones, some of which we have already achieved,” His Majesty told lawmakers, Cabinet members and key public figures from various walks of life (see full text).
Highlighting successes on this path, the King said that the reform process, based on core constitutional amendments, has “enhanced freedoms, enrooted the separation and balance between the branches of government, and led to the creation of essential democratic institutions to continue democratic transformation”.
The process also triggered the first steps towards parliamentary government on the basis of parliamentary consultations, he noted.
Elaborating on the parliamentary government approach, His Majesty said: “Through this, we seek to reach an advanced state through coming parliamentary cycles, whereby a House of Representatives’ majority of platform-based political parties forms the government, while the minority, also comprised of platform-based parties, serves as shadow government.”
In parallel with this, the monarchy evolves, he said.
“Parallel to this, progress in the fundamentals of partisan, parliamentary and governmental work goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of the monarchy’s role and constitutional responsibilities, foremost of which is to guarantee pluralism and democracy, safeguard the balance between the branches of government and defend our national security.”
Achievements should be coupled with evaluation and learning lessons from experiences, according to the King, who said: “Holding parliamentary and municipal elections in one year despite regional challenges underlines the state’s confidence in its institutions. Yet, it is necessary to learn lessons in order to progress with each election cycle.”
In this context, the King urged updating the political parties and elections laws in preparation for the coming 18th Parliament elections, which, he said, should be held on the basis of the amended laws and on the set date.
At the level of local government, he called for developing the Municipalities Law, finalising the decentralisation project and enacting the necessary legislation before the coming municipal elections.
A third requirement for a successful political reform plan is to improve the performance of political parties and parliamentary blocs, the King said.
The Monarch described the Parliament as “the incubator of dialogue and democracy” and as such it should set an example of the best democratic practices.
His Majesty said the recent endorsement of the House of Representatives’ internal bylaw and code of conduct is a contribution to such endeavour and called for adhering to these values in daily practice, “so that they become a deterrent to any individual practices that contradict the basics of democratic work and the responsibility of representing the people”.
“This will preserve the status and prestige of the House of Representatives and consolidate confidence in state institutions. All this will guarantee stability in parliamentary and government work, whereby the House of Representatives can complete its term, as long as it enjoys the people’s confidence, while the government will continue performing its duties as long as it enjoys the House of Representatives’ confidence.”
Reiterating recent remarks on the performance of the civil service apparatus, King Abdullah said: “Continued improvement of civil service performance to take it to the highest level of professionalism and competence is one of the most important prerequisites of parliamentary governments’ success. The government should move quickly to develop human resources in the public sector, prepare public sector leaders who excel, ingrain a culture of excellence, complete the restructuring of public sector agencies and the e-government services network, and advance the quality of basic public services such as education, health and public transportation. Citizens should taste the fruits of the white revolution we have issued directives to launch with the aim of reviving the public sector and civil service.”
source: JORDAN TIMES