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Lower House coalition moving to practical stage — members

By Khaled Neimat - Mar 31,2014 - Last updated at Mar 31,2014

AMMAN — The Lower House-based Mubadara alliance is moving from theoretical to practical stages, with a clear vision to deliver in the next few months, members of the initiative said on Monday.

“We support any government as long as it sticks to our programme and agreed upon policies,” former Lower House speaker Saad Hayel Srour, who was recently selected as president of the initiative, said at its first press conference.

Mubadara, which seeks to become a shadow government with a clear platform to address key national issues, has already delivered results, MP Mustafa Hamarneh, the group’s general coordinator told reporters.

“We have a clear plan to help any government, not just this one, overcome the current difficult economic situation,” he told The Jordan Times following the press conference.

The initiative has engaged with the government in efforts to find solutions to deep-rooted problems, including human rights and education.

For almost a year, the group sought to partner with the government and pave the way for a shadow government, a novel practice in the country’s parliamentary history.

The aim is to make sure that practical solutions to the country’s problems are available, Srour added, noting that Mubadara is not a “government party”, rather, it applies the roles of real “opposition” powers, as in major parliaments across the globe.

The two lawmakers and their team focused on the outcomes of their efforts. 

Yes, we delivered results” through legal and political means, Hamarneh said, stressing that such accomplishments have never been achieved by the Lower House in this manner before.

Most recently, the group, which has attracted 29 members from the 150-strong House, agreed with the government to grant the children of Jordanian women married to foreigners full civil rights.

The move sparked criticism from tribal figures and others, who charged that it constitutes a prelude to settling Palestinian refugees permanently in Jordan, a claim that Srour dismissed as “baseless”.

“We respect those who criticise our work,” he said, noting that the initiative is now delivering and will keep on progressing.

The initiative unveiled several policy papers on various sectors, after it concluded discussions with the concerned ministers and their teams.

The documents, made available to The Jordan Times, list specific measures to address the challenges facing each sector.

“We have spent 100 hours of debates with the government over such documents before we agreed on them as government policies,” Hamarneh said. 

The released documents cover education, energy, tourism, support for small- and medium-sized enterprises, public expenditure, agriculture and public transportation. Hamarneh said more documents will be released soon.

The initiative was behind the resumption of work on the multimillion-dinar Abdali development project.

The project was facing major challenges that caused suspension of construction work and delayed its completion. 

In this context, the Decent Housing for Decent Living project will be the next issue on the table with the government, according to a member of Mubadara who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The initiative has also opened several sensitive files, according to Hamarneh, and called for publishing a “white book” to reveal the truth about allegations of corrupt practices in the past few years.

In the political development arena, Mubadara will propose new constitutional amendments. 

“We will not touch His Majesty King Abdullah’s power,” Hamarneh said. But the proposed amendments will enhance the legislative authority’s performance, ensuring that a Lower House speaker remains in office for two years rather serving for one ordinary session of Parliament that lasts six months.

The coalition will also release recommendations on the political parties, elections, and press and publication laws, its members said, adding that they will monitor the government’s implementation of the agreed-upon policy papers as members of the legislative authority.

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