No limits on Jordan reform panel topics: U.N. envoy

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:30 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jordan's Islamist opposition could argue for constitutional change to curb the monarch's powers if it joined a government-appointed panel to discuss political reform, Jordan's U.N. ambassador said on Thursday.

The Islamic Action Front, which is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordan's largest party, said it had refused to join the 52-member panel created by Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit's cabinet.

The panel was created on Monday in response to a call by King Abdullah to accelerate reforms after weeks of street protests calling for political change. Popular revolutions have ousted the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, while uprisings in Libya and Bahrain have turned violent.

"This dialogue, if we can bring the Muslim Brotherhood into it, I think should be fruitful," Prince Zeid, Jordan's U.N. ambassador, told Reuters in an interview in New York.

"And there should be no prohibition in raising anything and simply because it's not on the agenda doesn't mean it can't be discussed," he said.

The Islamic Action Front said it would not join the panel because the remit did not include constitutional change to curb the power of King Abdullah.

"It certainly could be discussed," Prince Zeid said. "They should participate and they should raise it."

Islamist, leftist, liberal and tribal figures have called for the creation of a constitutional monarchy in recent weeks, demanding a government elected by a parliamentary majority rather than appointed by the king.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Daniel Trotta and Mohammad Zargham)