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10AMMAN275 2010-01-28 14:35:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Amman
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1. (S/NF) On January 25, PolChief met with a Jordanian
journalist with connections to the Islamic Action Front
(IAF). The journlist said that a coalition of electoral
activists was forming to publicly pressure the government for
meaningful reforms to electoral administration. He said
that the coalition would be headed by Ahmad Obeidat, who had
previously served as Prime Minister, head of the General
Intelligence Directorate (GID), and head of the National
Council for Human Rights (NCHR). According to this contact,
a significant number of Jordanian Islamists have joined this
diverse group of activists.

2. (S/NF) The journalist said that the group will be asking
for "elections with integrity." He said that the group is
primarily focused on ending corrupt electoral administration
practices, with less focus on changes to the existing
electoral law. "No one really expects fundamental change to
the law, but there is no reason that the government should
not be held accountable for the administration of this
election. We are striving to hold this debate in a peaceful
context, but the government should understand that the
consequences will be severe if they attempt to derail the
election as they did in 2007."

3. (S/NF) The contact said that he has been tasked with
outreach to organizations who might be willing to send
international election observer missions. "We need outsiders
here to make sure that the government is on its best
behavior." He has meetings scheduled with Europeans and he
will reach out to members of the U.S. Senate, as well as the
Carter Center, to request international observers.

4. (S/NF) Comment: This is the first time that post has
heard about the formation of a group of electoral reform
activists and it remains to be seen if it will, in fact,
become an effective advocate for change. However, the
mention of Obeidat is interesting. He has a long history of
public service and won the respect of activists when he was
"asked to resign" from the NCHR in 2008 after he signed a
public letter along with 149 others in protest of Jordan's
economic and privatization policies. It would be hard for
opponents to discredit Obeidat on this high-profile issue.

5. (S/NF) Furthermore, the Islamists may be getting out in
front on this reform issue with the demand for "free and
transparent elections with integrity." By asking for
international scrutiny of Jordan's "irregular electoral
practices," they will be placing pressure on the government
to produce meaningful change in 2010. End Comment.