Jordan's King Abdullah Open to Constitutional Monarchy

JENNINGS: Excuse me for interrupting. Who decides democratic maturity? Who is --.

ABDULLAH: The people.

JENNINGS: -- as of now, you decide democratic maturity?

ABDULLAH: Well in this particular position, we formed the government, that the parliament is elected by the people. But to encourage that, I mean, I have been in discussions with parliamentarians that would it be stronger for you to create where you stand on issues of education, social services, et cetera, et cetera, so that you can create a political party so that in the future, the people actually pick you for where you stand, and not because you happen to be a cousin or a tribal member?

JENNINGS: Would you be happy to be the head of a constitutional monarchy, as well ...

ABDULLAH: Well, eventually ... (Overlap)

JENNINGS: ... than an absolute monarchy?

ABDULLAH: ... eventually that's what we're trying to do, and by creating, decentralization, by trying to get these three regions, with their own elected parliaments, that will be the end game.

JENNINGS: So the end game could be a constitutional monarchy, not an absolute monarchy?

ABDULLAH: Absolutely. Because that -- I mean, we have to modernize, I think monarchy plays a vital role in countries such as Jordan. I think there's a lot of positive aspects, but monarchies have to modernize, and a way of modernizing is to do these political reform issues that will give people a much larger say in the way their countries go.

JENNINGS: Can I put it to you quite bluntly, sir: Do you condone the torture of prisoners in the Jordanian penal system?

ABDULLAH: Not at all, and there has been some cases reported where there has been abuse between prisoners and between police prison guards. And I have a new police chief at the moment that is looking into that. We have problems where we've got, as many countries do, overcrowding in jails. We're trying to build new infrastructure. And I gather from the chief of police that he has actually cleaned out a lot of people that he felt are corrupt and not up to the standard. And if we are going to be part of the international community, certain standards need to be set, and especially in jails.

JENNINGS: Why do you think the United States is sending, quote, suspected terrorists, unquote, to Jordan?

ABDULLAH: I'm not fully aware of that process. I know this has been reported in the press. And I don't have enough information to be able to answer that. (Overlap)

JENNINGS: It's a very big issue in the United States, as I'm sure you know, because Americans believe that prisoners are being sent, or rendered, as it's called, to countries where torture is permissible ...

ABDULLAH: Right.

JENNINGS: ... or acceptable, rather than here.

ABDULLAH: Right. Well, again, I'll have to talk to my people about that, but I think that we have standards that we want to keep as part of the international community, and if there are any wrongdoings done in Jordan, then, you know, we need to make sure that those issues are addressed.

JENNINGS: Can you imagine yourself saying no to the United States, if the United States wanted to send a suspected terrorist to the Jordanian system?

ABDULLAH: (Deep breath) Well, I'd , I would have -- I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I know we have a very good relationship between the Jordanian and American government. I wish I had more information to be able to give you on that particular issue.

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