Monday, November 07, 2005

Is the National Agenda dead?

While Marwan Muasher and his crew are still fixing the typos in the 2500 page National Agenda, speculation on the ultimate fate of the document continues. Abu Aardvark believes that the ultimate fate of the NA is in the dustbin, along with Jordan's claim to be on the road to genuine reform, whereas Jamil Nimri suggests that this is probably not the case.

Whether the NA is ultimately accepted and implemented is contingent on whether Jordanians like it. I believe that the idea of it being totally discarded is probably wishful thinking on the part of Nimri's "highly placed source". Maybe the NA was just another brain storming exercise which will not yield the hoped results. However, I wouldn't frame partial or total rejection as being failure of reform, as Abu Aardvark suggests.

The NAC is an extraconstitutional royal commission. As such, the constitutional framework of the country would need to be changed in order to give the commission legislative or executive powers. Given that the 26 members were not elected, I would argue that letting these people have the final say would be the antithesis of democratic and legal due process. In other words, if civil society, the parliament or the executive change some of the recommendations or ignore them, this would be a healthy sign. Reform can not and should not be dictated by an unelected commission.

On the other hand, constitutional hiccups might arise. An article in Addustour today points out that the Jordanian constitution stipulates direct election of members of parliament. Thus the idea of electing party slates instead of individual candidates would be unconstitutional. So much for the entire debate about electoral reform. The idea of constitutional amendments was outside the mandate of the NAC.

A lot of hard work went into the NA. I say that when it is finally released, every aspect of it should be judged based on its merits. It was probably a good idea to draft the original recommendations by a small group, and then latter solicit input. Having discussions about the recommendations before ideas are put forward would have taken forever. However, the new ideas need to be incorporated in order to achieve acceptance by various Jordanian interests. I believe that the discussions generated after the release of the NA will be as important, if not more so, as the discussions that occurred within the NAC. The way Jordan deals with the final product will be the true test of our commitment to reform, whatever is meant by this term. I think people will show more interest when there is something to talk about.


At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People judge the future based on the past and the past is not so pretty. But every indication seems to be that the King (and therefore the government) is very serious about the NA and they would not have gone to all this trouble and have all this publicity if its fate was a dustbin.

I can tell you this, the royal courts are hard at work in setting up new systems to accomodate the implementation of many reform programs based on NA recommendations.

People are already picking at it without seeing it, and to tell you the truth this is an attempt for interest groups to attatch their voice to the agenda so they can hitch a ride and wont get left out. The truth is, since the NA's purpose is to produce reform, in all liklihood nothing on it is going to disadvantageous to any party. You have some of the brightest minds working on this thing and representing many sectors of Jordan. The NA is for the betterment of the society, it is a road map. So what's there to loose? We are currently lost, so heck, the worse thing a road map can do is keep us lost.

At 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2500 no way


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