King Abdullah dissolved Jordan's parliament on Thursday in an action said to pave the way for upcoming parliamentary elections.
Reuters reports that the announcement was made "on the eve of a rally organized by the main Islamist opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is hoping to stage its largest demonstration on Friday since Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted last year."
Jordan was spared during the Arab Spring uprisings because of promised reforms—including the upcoming parliament election—but the Brotherhood and a coalition of opposition groups have been pressuring the monarch to expedite the process. According to the Globe and Mail, critics also charge that the reforms "do not go far enough in neutralizing distortions that ensure parliamentary strength for the supports of King Abdullah II or curtail his absolute powers."
This summer, the Brotherhood's political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), threatened to boycott the upcoming elections. The group demanded an overhaul of the parliamentary system and to curtail some of the king's control by having an elected prime minister rather than appointment by the king, as was previously the custom. Reuters explains that "a boycott by the country's only effective opposition, the IAF, …threaten[s] to damage the legitimacy of any future parliament."
Until this point, protests in Jordan have been more peaceful than in other Arab States. The BBC's Arab affairs analyst Sebastian Usher explains that this was a credit to King Abdullah who has presented himself as a "unifying force, a constitutional monarch representing the will of his people." However, this may no longer by the case, or general impression.
"Worryingly for King Abdullah, the taboo on directly criticising the palace appears to have been breached. The king has dissolved parliaments and sacked prime ministers before in order to show that he is responsive to public dissatisfaction. But it is the wielding of that kind of power that the Islamists and democracy activists believe is preventing true reform."
The royal statement dissolving the parliament did not state when the elections would take place though Jordan's constitution stipulates that the cabinet must resign within a week of the parliament's dissolution.