Skip to main content

On eve of protest, King Abdullah dissolves parliament

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Fri October 5, 2012
Jordan's King Abdullah II addresses the U.N. General Assembly on September 25 in New York City.
Jordan's King Abdullah II addresses the U.N. General Assembly on September 25 in New York City.
  • King Abdullah dissolves parliament Thursday; protests are expected in Amman Friday
  • Abdullah has fired four prime ministers and dissolved his government in previous months
  • Muslim Brotherhood dismisses the king's actions, saying 'real' reforms are needed

(CNN) -- On the eve of a protest expected in Amman Friday, Jordan's king has dissolved the country's parliament and called for early elections close to the new year.

This isn't the first time King Abdullah II has responded pre-emptively to a possible Arab Spring-inspired demonstration in the country. But it could foreshadow the seriousness of the rally, which is likely to echo the push for democratic reforms that have swept North Africa and the Middle East.

Popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya ousted longtime leaders from power.

In nearly two years, King Abdullah has fired four prime ministers.

In February 2011, shortly before Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down following weeks of intense protest, Abdullah dismissed his government and appointed a new prime minister. The king ordered Marouf al-Bakhit to make "genuine political reform," the country's royal court reported.

The government, the king then promised, would "take practical steps, quick and concrete, to launch a process of genuine political reform" and "comprehensive development," according to a letter from the king to al-Bakhit. The government would act to strengthen democracy, the letter said.

New prime ministers were subsequently appointed in October of 2011 and May of 2012.

On Thursday, government spokesman Samih al-Maitah framed the king's latest decision as a move he was planning as a part of his promised reforms.

"This was not a surprise decision," al-Maitah said.

Parliamentary elections will be held, at the latest, early next year and will be overseen by an independent commission, the spokesman added. The parliament was elected almost two years ago.

Several protests calling for change have been held in Jordan in the past year.

Thousands protest for political change in Jordan

The Muslim Brotherhood is organizing Friday's protest.

The religious and political group -- which was started in 1928 and counts Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsy, as a member -- believes Islam is not simply a religion but a way of life. It advocates a move away from secularism and a return to the rules of the Quran as a basis for healthy families, communities, and states. The Brotherhood has repeatedly called for political reform in Jordan.

A Brotherhood representative told CNN that a large group is expected to gather Friday afternoon and march from the Hussein mosque to Palm Square downtown.

Loyalists to the king told reporters that, to keep the peace, they would not hold a counter-demonstration as originally planned.

"It's been expected to have the parliament dissolved by the king," said Nimer Assaf, the deputy general secretary of the Islamic Action Front, the Brotherhood's political wing. "As far as we are concerned this is not the right step forward."

There should be democratic election law reform and "real" changes to Jordan's constitution, he said.

Parliament should have the right to dissolve itself, he said, and the prime minister should be elected by the public.

"Through that we can fight corruption, which is really high in Jordan," he said.

CNN's Kareem Khadder contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 5:19 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What caught our experts' ears was as much about what he didn't address as much as what he did.
updated 6:19 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
The three-year war in Syria has claimed 162,402 lives, an opposition group said Monday, as the raging conflict shows no signs of abating.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Official: The U.S. believes a jihadi featured in a suicide bombing video in Syria is Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha who grew up in Florida.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
For the first time, Britain has convicted someone of a terrorism offense related to the Syrian civil war.