x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Impeachment trial a sign of maturity

The failed effort to impeach Jordan's prime minister over the so-called casino file is a sign than Jordan is developing a mature parliamentary system, writes an Arabic-language press commentator. Other topics touched on today: Libya and the ICC, Egypt and the IMF, and the Syrian opposition meeting.

Democracy has its own open procedures

The acquittal of the Jordanian prime minister, Marouf Bakhit, on any involvement in what is called the "casino file" follows a process no different from impeachment efforts that occur in the parliaments of other countries such as in Japan, Spain and Kuwait, observed Saleh al Qallab in a commentary for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda.

"This is the price tag of democracy. Such procedures should not be seen as a stigma for the government, but rather a recognition that the country has embraced principles of human rights and public freedoms."

The heated debate in parliament, widely broadcast by Arab and international TV channels, was marked by exchanges of different views reflecting MPs' political affiliations. "The whole scene appeared to be like an orchestra playing various tunes and rhythms."

The debate was, however, a healthy one overall, because it reflected a parliament made up of many voices and opinions. The impeachment motion, regardless of its outcome, was a milestone in legislative procedures in Jordan, and evidence of its lively politics.

"The move, I should acknowledge, confirms that Jordan has started the reform process. Yet it is not enough. The government needs also to continue relentlessly to meet the needs of the people and to achieve their aspirations, which are legitimate."


Prosecution for crimes against humanity

"The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday against Col Muammar Qaddafi is new evidence that the international community is determined to prosecute violations committed by the Libyan regime," noted the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan in its editorial.

The court's decision puts pressure on the regime to respond to international calls to protect civilians.

"However, if the ICC considers the arrest warrant it issued against Qaddafi, his son Saif al Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah Sanusi, as the only means to protect civilians in Libya, we believe that the departure of the regime altogether is the only solution to ensure security for civilians and stability."

Although Libya rejected the court's decision, saying that it does not accept ICC jurisdiction, this is not an excuse for the regime not to comply with the popular and international will.

While this newspaper welcomes the warrant, it has some observations about the way the ICC deals with other incidents against civilians. For example, the court cares less about similar violations in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, South Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In this context, the court is required to monitor with the same efficiency crimes that target civilians in Gaza and highlight this issue on its agenda.


Syrian opposition in Damascus faces attack

"The opposition figures who met in Damascus did not claim they represent the wide spectrum of Syrian opposition, nor did they say that they acted on behalf of Syrians as a whole. They simply said that they expressed their own personal point of views," observed Arib al Rantawi in an opinion article for the Jordanian newspaper Addustoor.

Yet they classed their gathering as part of the popular movement and consider other opposition parties, whether at home or abroad, as "links in one chain".

They were strongly criticised by their counterparts abroad. They were even accused, on the grounds that the conference was meant to serve the regime: "The participants were seen as part of a game to polish the image of the regime and help its survive."

The main argument that supports the claims of the opposition based outside Syria is the venue of conference in Damascus under the eyes of the regime. Most did not believe the gathering would have been possible without prior consent from and direct co-ordination with the regime, which would not have approved if the meeting had not served its interests.

In their statement, the participants stressed that the conference was an effort to put the voice of a peaceful opposition together and draft a programme for it. This way, they believe, Syria can avoid reform plans dictated by other countries.


Investment policy will replace loans in Egypt

Egyptians welcomed the decision by the Ministry of Finance not to accept loans from the International Monetary Fund, a decision based on sound judgement, said the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram.

"People wish also that their government will not to go back to adopting foreign debt policies, which turned Egypt to begging for money to meet its needs."

This position would not have been possible without social dialogue about the new fiscal year's budget. Many stakeholders expressed reservations concerning external borrowing.

In response to these views, the draft budget was amended and the deficit was reduced in proportion with locally-available resources.

"Needless to say, the real future of the Egyptian economy lies in increasing the volume of investment and promoting export and international trade. Borrowing is not a solution."

In this regard, the government is keen to remove obstacles that hinder investors and to support the private sector to ensure it contributes toward overall economic development.

To achieve this, the government will need to increase public spending to develop basic infrastructure and promote education and training.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi