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Jordan sets date for elections amid calls for reform

Jordan's electoral commission has scheduled the date for early parliamentary elections. The announcement, hot on the heels of an election date being set in neighboring Israel, comes amid growing demands for reforms.

Jordanian electoral authorities on Tuesday announced January 23 as the date for a general election to take place.

"In line with a royal decree to hold the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Independent Election Commission decided today to set the vote for Wednesday, January 23," the commission said in a statement carried by Petra news agency.

The selection of the date is subsequent to the king's judgment to dissolve parliament at the beginning of October and just one week following the swearing in of new Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour.

"Applications to run for parliament will start on December 22 and last for three days. Government employees who wish to run for parliament must resign before October 22."

According to the commission, more than two million voters have registered to vote. Of Jordan's total population of 6.7 million people, just 3.1 million are eligible to vote.

Leading opposition group The Muslim Brotherhood, who have been a major force for reform to the electoral system, plan to boycott the upcoming elections. They say the current system favors rural areas, where support for the government is high, at the expense of opposing urban areas that have a larger population.

Electoral planned next door

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu formally asked for parliament's approval to move the election to the new date, on January 22, in a speech on Monday.

He called for the early election after difficulties arose with coalition partners over a 2013 budget plan, which included some austerity measures.

Netanyahu has used the opportunity to outline his case for continuing to serve as Israel's prime minister, saying his tough stance on Iran's nuclear program was reason enough to keep him in office.

cg/rc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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