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Jordanians hold parliamentary election

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordanians went to the polls Wednesday in the first parliamentary election since protests targeting corruption and calling for greater political freedoms started to spread two years ago, shaking the rule of King Abdullah II.

The monarch, a close ally of the United States, is relying on the elections to quiet his critics and has promised that the contest could usher in the formation of strong political parties and allow the public a greater say in the selection of the government.

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King Abdullah’s critics have dismissed the vote as an attempt by him to avoid yielding any measure of his absolute powers and say it is likely to contribute to a spreading sense of political alienation.

The country’s main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic Action Front, boycotted the vote, increasing the chances that the election would be followed by more unrest. The Brotherhood and other groups which did not vote complained about an election law that under-represents the kingdom’s majority citizens of Palestinian origin, favoring members of tribes loyal to the king.

At several polling stations in Amman, the capital, campaign workers said turnout was light but that they expected larger numbers later Wednesday, a holiday.

By early afternoon, the election commission’s spokesman, Hussein Bani Hani, said turnout had reached 24 percent of the roughly 2.3 million registered voters, according to the Petra news agency. In all, 1,425 candidates are running for 150 seats in the lower house of Parliament.

David Martin, the European Union’s chief election observer, said that there was no harassment of voters.

Before the vote, many Jordanians complained about the numbers of familiar faces among the candidates, members of previous, feeble legislatures who came to power in elections widely viewed as rigged.

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