Jordan sets Sept. 20 as date for parliament elections

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Jordan is to hold parliament elections on Sept. 20, the country's Independent Elections Commission announced on Thursday.

The balloting for 130 members of parliament will be the first under a new electoral law. Critics and opposition figures have said the new rules, while an improvement, don't go far enough in encouraging the formation of political parties in place of tribal politics.

The vote is also coming at a time when the main political opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is fractured and in disarray.

Jordan also faces growing economic and security problems, caused in part by fallout from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

In this climate, political reforms have been on hold.

Earlier this year, the outgoing parliament adopted constitutional amendments that consolidated the already considerable powers of King Abdullah II, giving him, among other things, the sole authority to appoint leaders of the security forces and members of the constitutional court.

The last parliament election was held in January 2013, under a system in which a voter could only vote for one candidate in his or her district.

Under the new law, a voter can choose as many candidates as there members of parliament representing the district. In the upcoming election, Jordan will be divided into 23 electoral districts.

The new rules also reduced the number of members of parliament from 150 to 130. Fifteen seats are reserved for women, nine for Christians and three for ethnic minorities.

The king had dissolved the old parliament in late May, paving the way for new elections within four months.