Jordan's King Abdullah Open to Constitutional Monarchy

JENNINGS: As Americans look at these changes in the Middle East, now they look at Jordan without question, including the restrictive political parties law. Why does that not change, and why could that not change immediately?

ABDULLAH: Well, we're actually in the process of changing those issues. At the moment, working with the government, for example, on media. We have created, in the civil courts, a special judge, actually a lady judge, who's in charge of media issues, and from that point onwards, no journalist can be taken to prison. They can be voted by the Judge Advocate if there is an issue of negligence or misjudgment from a member of the media. And then everything is taken to the civil courts, so there's a process of laws that we're in the process of implementing at the moment to create the right freedoms of the press and of political parties.

JENNINGS: The international organizations who monitor Jordan say that the local media's not allowed to criticize you.

ABDULLAH: Well, with the new system in place, if one does criticize me, and if there's an issue where there is negligence or wrongdoings from the reporter or the media personality, there is nothing that the government can do except for maybe sending them to a civil court, if the person is held liable.

JENNINGS: How long do you think it should be, in your own mind, before people look to Jordan as an absolute model of democratic procedure in the Middle East?

ABDULLAH: Well, again, in our discussions with Western organizations on the issue of decentralization, it could be anywhere as close to one year to five. We have to build a culture of democracy, that's part of the problem, so that people inside Jordan understand their rights, and also we need a lot of technical support. I've been talking to many countries that looked at the federal system or created governors. How do you improve the political system, but at the same time increase transparency, cut down corruption, and have it not affect what we've been doing on the social economic reform program? It's a very complicated issue. And if we're going to have political reform, we've really got to get it right the first time around. And actually my trip to Europe two weeks ago was to reach out to European countries and today to the United States, to really give us any technical advice and support on how to be able to get this political reform done in the right way, the right time, the first time around.

JENNINGS: Are you aware, sir, that it sounds a little defensive to an American audience?

ABDULLAH: In what respect?

JENNINGS: We must create democracy gradually. We can't just spring democracy ... (Overlap)

ABDULLAH: No, no, we can. We can spring ... (Overlap)

JENNINGS: ... for themselves immediately. We have to have decentralization in order for people to express their opinions politically.

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