Middle East

Jordan king hails vote, vows to reach out to critics

King Abdullah II of Jordan speaks to the assembly at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

DAVOS, Switzerland: Jordan's King Abdullah II vowed on Friday to pursue democratic reforms after this week's "landmark" parliamentary vote, and to reach out to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that boycotted the election.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the king hailed the election as an important step forward and said authorities would now work to build a party-based political culture in Jordan.

"I think the easiest part... is behind us. Today the challenge in creating this parliament is trying to create parties with political party platforms," he said.

Preliminary results have shown that tribal leaders, pro-regime loyalists and independent businessmen were set to make strong showings in Wednesday's election.

The vote was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, which said the king's plans for a parliamentary government fell far short of true democratic change and argued that he should have no say in naming a prime minister.

Asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, the king said it had little influence in his country.

"It is not a serious problem whatsoever, I think the weakest standing of any group of Muslim Brotherhood in any of the countries of the Middle East is actually in Jordan," he said.

"The challenge is how do I reach out to the oppositions that boycotted, that actually ended up being very small in numbers, to be part of this process," the king said.

He added that consultations would start in the next few days for the designation of a new prime minister.





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