Jordan's King Favors Lifting Restrictions Before Election

JORDAN'S King Hussein says he is leaning toward a loosening of political restrictions for November's parliamentary election, his country's first in 22 years. Speaking to the Monitor during a stopover here, the King stopped short of suggesting a rewrite of the Constitution and laws strictly limiting organized political activity. For instance, political parties are currently outlawed.

But Hussein said he was intent on ``a very free election,'' adding: ``... any small restrictions that are within the law ... I would have a tendency to waive. I have enough confidence in the people of Jordan - their political maturity.''

The election announcement is one of a series of moves by the King to restore political and economic stability in the wake of food riots earlier this year.

Jordan recently concluded an agreement with the International Monetary Fund worth roughly $100 million over the next 18 months, and officials are hoping this will pave the way for other loan and rescheduling agreements.

Hussein portrayed the IMF accord as part of an overall economic readjustment at home.

``It is going to be a difficult period for a while,'' he said. ``But we are determined to stand on our own, repay our debts, rejuvenate our economy and certainly, as far as political life is concerned, we'll have elections very soon.''

On wider Mideast issues, the King said Washington's dialogue with the PLO was crucial to peace moves. He felt it essential that ``there be some results - soon - to narrow the gap between the Palestinians and the Israelis.''

Asked about recent suggestions by some in the US Congress that that dialogue be limited or ended, he said, ``That would be disastrous. We would go back to square one ... There are extremists [waiting] to destroy any chances for progress - on both sides of the conflict.''

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