11/09/2010, 00.00
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Polls open in Jordan, as parliamentary elections get underway

About 2.5 million Jordanians are eligible to vote. Voters of Palestinian origin are expected to stay away. The opposition Islamic Action Front is boycotting the poll because of the new election law put into place following allegations against the government of widespread fraud in the 2007 elections.

Amman (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Polling stations opened today in Jordan. About 2.5 million voters will choose among 763 candidates, including 134 women, to elect their 120-member lower house of parliament. Voting is scheduled to end at 7 pm, but could be extended by two hours. Counting will follow right away and the first results should become available by late evening.

The country’s main opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic Action Front (IAF), is not running this time, having chosen to boycott the election after a new election law was adopted in May. IAF leaders complain the new law was meant to penalise them.

For his part, Prime Minister Samir Rifai vowed to conduct fair and free elections this time, unlike those of 2007 that were marred by accusations of vote rigging, which ultimately led King Abdullah II to impose direct royal rule last year, half-way through parliament’s four-year term.

Almost 40,000 soldiers and police have been deployed around the country to ensure everyone can vote.

The election falls on the fifth anniversary of terror attacks against three Amman hotels that left 60 people dead. In light of the anniversary, Prime Minister Rifai said the election is a message “in favour of democracy against all forms of terrorism”.

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