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Speeches from the Throne

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Speech from the Throne By His Majesty King Abdullah II
Opening the First Ordinary Session of the 16th Parliament
Amman, Jordan
28 November 2010

(Translated from Arabic)
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate

Prayers and peace be upon Our Master Mohammad,
the Honest Arab Hashemite Prophet

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you.

In the name of God, and with His blessings, we inaugurate the first ordinary session of the Sixteenth Parliament. With the inauguration of this session, we reaffirm our commitment to fulfilling the constitutional requirements of our democratic process. We also emphasize our utmost care for the participation of our people in decision-making, and in building the future that befits their tremendous sacrifices and their right to live freely and with dignity, in a homeland whose strength, progress and prosperity are exemplary.

On this occasion, I wish to congratulate the respectable deputies who have won the confidence of our people in the recent parliamentary elections, which we did our utmost to hold in a transparent and impartial manner. We hope these elections, and this assembly, will further strengthen our democratic process.

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

Over the last few years, we have been working within a transparent vision of reform and modernisation, to rectify deficiencies and to achieve comprehensive development. We have made many achievements. But it is imperative to assess our efforts and evaluate their outcome, with a view to maximizing achievements, correcting mistakes, and ending shortcomings.

This appraisal process is not the sole responsibility of only one authority. Neither is the responsibility of advancing reforms. These are a collective responsibility. And only through institutional cooperation among all branches of government; cooperation guided by the Constitution and the recognition of the central roles of all of them, will we be able to shoulder these responsibilities and build the bright future that our people deserve.

We must learn from the lessons of the past. We must rectify mistakes made. And we must admit that relations between the executive and legislative authorities suffered from numerous shortcomings that hindered our reform efforts, to the detriment of the interests of our people.

The Legislative Authority has a pivotal constitutional role. We do not accept any situation in which the role of the House of Representatives is undermined. And we do not accept any distortion of its image among the people. We face tremendous challenges, and we have great aspirations for our people. A strong Parliament that exercises its constitutional responsibilities in legislation and monitoring is essential for the realisation of our vision for our people. A real and institutional partnership between Parliament and government is also essential for moving forward and for consolidating people's trust in their public institutions.

I have directed the government to reassess the mechanisms through which it conducts its relations with the House of Representatives. This assessment must lead to improving the relationship between the two authorities, so that it becomes a relationship of cooperation and complementarity, whereby the government and Parliament perform their duties and exercise their authorities fully. Neither authority should encroach on the role of the other. And the relationship between government and Parliament must not be hostage to vested interests. Its stability should not be conditional on realising private gains.

In order to avoid past mistakes, it is imperative that the two authorities agree on a binding set of principles, consistent with the Constitution and laws, that defines the basis on which the government will conduct its interaction with members of the House. Such clear guidelines for this interaction will assure our dear people that the government-Parliament relationship is a true partnership intended to serve public interests.

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

Our directives to the government have stressed the need to conduct its work through well defined institutional mechanism that sets clear objectives and timelines. We have further emphasised the need for assertiveness and transparency, and for the need to make decisions without reluctance or fear. And there should be no room for policies of appeasement that had strongly hindered the achievement of necessary and positive change. The government is committed to these guidelines as it works to advance our development process through seven areas of priorities.

Political, economic, social and administrative reforms are interconnected. We have emphasised, therefore, that economic reform should be accompanied with political reform that increases public participation in the decision-making process. Accordingly, the government will work to ensure conditions necessary for the development of all aspects of political life. In this regard, the government will refer the temporary Election Law to the House of Representatives. Parliament will then study and amend it as necessary to render this central legislation more conducive to advancing our democratic reforms, and adopt it as a permanent law. The government will also refer to you the draft Decentralisation Law, which seeks to build capacity in the various governorates, and to ensure a larger role for the people in building their future and determining the development priorities for their governorates.

The government will work in partnership with your respectable assembly to modify and update legislation governing political work and relating to the rights and liberties of our citizens, in order to create an environment that can move comprehensive political development forward.

Political development cannot, however, be fully attained without the participation of civil society organisations and national political parties that build credibility through convincing the people of the viability of their programmes and their ability to contribute to the development of the country. In this regard, my government will continue to work to encourage the emergence of political parties that adhere to the Constitution and the law. It will work to remove all obstacles facing them.

My government will continue to invest in developing a professional relationship with the media. It will respect the right of media institutions to work freely and independently, and to have access to information. Law, as well as the Code of Conduct that was adopted by the previous government, will govern this relationship. But it is necessary to consider any legislative amendments that can lead to the development of an independent professional media industry, and protect citizens and their rights from unprofessional practices that falsify facts and harm our country.

In view of the significance of the role of our youth, on whose shoulders lies the responsibility of building our future, the government is working towards implementing a comprehensive plan to develop the role of the youth sector and to equip our youth with necessary skills and knowledge. Likewise, the government will continue to strengthen and reinforce the role of women in society, and will take all necessary measures to protect women's rights.

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

Improving the performance of our public institutions is a requisite for confronting challenges. Hence the government has adopted key performance indicators, and has empowered institutions mandated with monitoring performance, ensuring transparency and fighting all aspects of corruption and redundancy. It has also set a unit to monitor the implementation of executive plans and adopted a code of ethics by which all cabinet members will abide. It has prepared a special programme to develop the efficiency of public administration. Furthermore, the government has improved the quality of services extended to our citizens, particularly in the fields of health, education and housing, to help make suitable accommodation available to citizens. It has increased the number of healthcare centres and built more schools. The government also worked on enhancing municipality services and providing more support to cultural activities.

And since justice is the pillar of governance, we are committed to strengthen the independence of the judiciary. The government will make available all the requirements the Judicial Authority needs to improve its performance and to ensure justice among people. It is imperative to develop and modernise legislation, recruit the best trained professionals and invest in their training so that the Judicial Authority maintains its record of efficiency and impartiality.

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

Jordan faces enormous economic challenges. Overcoming these challenges dictates the adoption of viable economic policies that can fulfil our aspirations to provide a better life for our citizens. Therefore, improving the performance of the economy will continue to top our priorities due to the direct impact such an improvement will have on the quality of life of our people.

The global economic conditions have been extremely difficult and our economy has been affected by this global crisis. But despite these difficult conditions, the government has achieved positive results; and the major economic indicators have shown improvement. There has been positive growth in the gross domestic product; and the budget deficit has been reduced. The fiscal policies will continue to be geared towards curbing the budget deficit and consolidating financial stability. The government will also focus on improving the investment environment, stimulating economic growth and developing self sufficiency.

We have directed the government to give due attention and care to all vital sectors, specially the educational sector. We have emphasised the necessity of improving the living standards of teachers, and protecting their social standing. We have further directed the government to pay due attention to the agricultural sector and workers, and to increase investment in the tourism sector. And as we want Jordan to remain a pioneer in the communication and information technology, we have directed the government to support this sector, which plays a major role in enhancing the performance of various public institutions.

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

Our citizens are our primary asset. They are the engine of development; and their well-being is its objective. It is the government's duty, therefore, to be committed to maintaining economic and social justice and equality. The government's policies will seek to expand the middle class, and to protect and support the poor. Poverty and unemployment are two evils that we should fight by all possible means. In this regard, the government will improve the current mechanism for helping the poor, and will seek to enhance the role of civil society organisations and the private sector in providing parallel support programmes.

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

The government's work in the seven areas of priorities, that it has identified, represents a comprehensive development programme to improve performance in all sectors. This programme entails specific projects and practical procedures. And the government will present this programme to you for detailed discussion and consultation on how to improve it. Cooperating on implementing this comprehensive programme and its objectives of improving our performance and preserving and developing our achievements, is essential for success.

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

Our country would not have realised all its achievements without the blessings of stability and security, which have been safeguarded by our brave comrades-in-arms in the armed forces and our security agencies. These men and women are a source of pride for all Jordanians. We will continue to extend all support to our brave Arab Army and our security agencies, providing them with the training, equipment, and weapon systems they need to carry out their responsibilities. We will also work to improve standards of living for all members of the army and security agencies, who put their lives on the line in defence of our country and its achievements.

Jordan, which will remain strong, stable and secure, will continue to support our Arab brethren in defending Arab and Islamic just causes. First among these is the Palestinian cause. Jordan has always been and will continue to be the strongest supporter of our Palestinian brethren, and we will do all we can to help them put an end to occupation, to lift the injustice, and to establish their independent state on their national soil, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and international law, and within a regional context that ensures comprehensive peace.

Jordan will also spare no effort in supporting our Iraqi brethren to preserve the stability and security of their country, and to regain Iraq's pivotal role in the region and the world at large.

Honourable Senators,
Honourable Deputies,

Many are the challenges we face. But the opportunities are greater. We have always overcome challenges, and our history is a record of victories … A record that was achieved through the will, unity and knowledge of Jordanians. And so, God willing, will the future be: New achievements that we will make through hard work and belief in our abilities. There is no time to waste. Let everybody work as a team that places common good above of all other considerations; that abides by the law; that nurtures the culture of democracy; that builds viable institutions, and that is armed with knowledge, education and wisdom. Let everybody work as a team that protects national unity; that stands firmly against all voices of division and negativism; that carries our reform process forward towards new horizons of achievement; that builds on the accomplishments of our forefathers, and protects Jordan as a beloved and proud homeland.

May God guide us to what is best to our country and the people, and to our Arab and Islamic Nation.

Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you.