Jordan’s powerful Islamists warned on Tuesday they will step up their campaign against next week’s parliamentary elections and against reforms pursued by King Abdullah II. The Jan. 23 vote could lead to a showdown between Abdullah and the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group leads a fractured opposition in Jordan that includes liberal youth activists, trade unionists, Arab nationalists and Communists. Traditionally, the Brotherhood has been loyal to the Jordan’s Hashemite dynasty, which claims ancestry to the Prophet Muhammad. Brotherhood leaders have joined Cabinets in the past and held top government positions. Unlike other Mideast nations where the Brotherhood was banned or suppressed until Arab Spring revolts, it has been a licensed political party for decades in Jordan. Now the fundamentalist group is openly seeking more power in the kingdom, seeing its peers now ruling in Egypt and Tunisia.
On Tuesday, three leaders of the Brotherhood’s IAF told reporters in Amman that the Jordanian opposition opposes the elections but renounces violence as a means of coming to power.
“We are against the elections because they are a theatrical gimmick meant to maintain the government’s strong grip on power,” said IAF leader Hamza Mansour. “We call on all Jordanians to boycott the polls.”
Salem Falahat, Mansour’s deputy, claimed the opposition was “expanding both numerically and taking on more cities nationwide.”
Zaki Bani Irsheid, another IAF member, said the group would escalate its campaign against the elections and the king’s reforms through peaceful means such as “street protests, public gatherings and strikes and by lobbying the next parliament.”
Bani Irsheid said the party may suspend the membership of member Abdul-Karim Maaytah, who is competing in the election in violation of the boycott. He said another party official Mohammad Al-Hosami resigned two months ago and is also contesting the polls.