Jordan Muslim Brotherhood elects new, hawkish leader

Amman  - The Consultative Council of Jordan's influential Muslim Brotherhood movement has elected hard-line Hammam Saeed as new leader, reliable Islamic sources said Thursday.

Saeed, a former member of the lower house of parliament, narrowly won the post in severe competition with former leader, Salem Falahat, who lost with one-vote edge in the voting that took place late Wednesday.

The new leader, who descends from a Palestinian origin, apparently won the support of hawks who back the Palestinian hard-line Hamas group currently in control of the Gaza Strip.

Falahat, a dovish Islamist, came under fire from hardliners since he was chosen several months ago by King Abdullah II as member of the upper house of parliament, also known as the king's council.

The Muslim Brotherhood movement has been for decades leading opposition in the country mainly through its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), which suffered a major setback in the last general elections in November.

The IAF won only six seats in the 110-member lower house compared with 17 seats in the outgoing chamber.

The echoing defeat of the IAF, the country's largest political party, was blamed mainly on the leadership's choice of moderate candidates to run the elections.

Local commentators suggested that Saeed's choice as new leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement could trigger confrontation with the government, which supports Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas versus Hamas. (dpa)