The Catholic Church in Jordan is offering prayers for all candidates taking part in the country's election on 23 January, but it is not supporting any one in particular.
Archbishop Maroun Laham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said: "The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, has already sent an official message to the Christians, inviting them to vote. Obviously I am going to vote too. In past days several candidates have come to visit us, including Muslims. We promised all of them our prayers and blessings. But the Church does not campaign for any particular candidate."
Almost two million 300 thousand Jordanian citizens will be voting. There are 1,425 candidates, including 191 women, competing for the 150 seats in the lower Chamber of Parliament. Nine of the seats are reserved for Christian candidates.
The elections are being boycotted by the Islamic Action Front, the group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood which represents the main opposition force. Among the candidates, supporters of the Hashemite monarchy and businessmen abound.
According to Mgr Lahham "everyone is waiting to see if the new Parliament will really be able to start the reforms that the country needs."
The Archbishop said it is very significant that the Prime Minister will be appointed for the first time by an elected group, instead of by the King. He also said it was also significant that vote-buying was being severely punished. However, the Archbishop said, tribal and family allegiances are still the most powerful voting force in Jordan.
Even today, he said, the newspapers were telling the story of a candidate forced to divorce her husband after she had refused to withdraw from the elections to favour a candidate belonging to his family.