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Veiled Jordanians To Uncover Faces

July 12, 1999

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Veiled Jordanian women will have to uncover their faces to female officials at ballot stations if they want to take part in Wednesday’s nationwide municipal elections.

The minister of municipal and rural affairs, Tawfiq Kreishan, said Monday that said such measures were necessary to ensure ``integrity and fairness″ of the poll.

``Veiled voters will uncover their faces only before a police woman or a female representative of one of the candidates,″ he said, trying to reassure voters.

The decree by Amman Gov. Qaftan Majali overruled a previous exemption for women wearing full-face veils.

``We can’t have the same situation as in 1995 when the rules encouraged some men to turn up to vote in women’s clothes and some women to vote more than once,″ Kreishan said.

Polling stations across Jordan are divided into men’s and women’s sections.

On Wednesday, more than 1 million registered voters in this country of 4.2 million will choose mayors and counselors for most of the 304 municipalities. The government says 5,241 candidates are contesting 2,530 seats. Twenty women are running, 50 percent more than in 1995.

In 1995, during the first nationwide municipal elections, independent candidates and tribal leaders loyal to the late King Hussein overpowered political parties and Muslim fundamentalists campaigning on an anti-Israeli platform.

The elections were part of a liberalization process launched by the late King Hussein 10 years ago. Jordan also has an elected House of Representatives, but the king holds great power.

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