The agenda of King Abdullah II in 2016 was very crowded with visits outside the country. He concluded the year with a personal visit resulting in 30% of the year outside a 5% increase from last year. An analysis conducted by Ammananet based on the official gazette and the official website of the King shows that the King left the country 25 times one visit less than last year. The number of countries visited in 2016 was 16 a drop from the 20 visits of 2015. The visits in 2016 included five Arab countries.
Some of the visits of the King included more than one country. The total number of official state visits was 23 out of a total of 28 visits. Last year the King made 30 visits. Until the last day of 2016, the King had not returned from a private visit whose whereabouts are not known.
The most recent constitutional amendments in April 19th allowed the King (who is constitutionally immune from any responsibility or accountability) to appoint a deputy if he leaves the country during his absence, without the need for a signature from the Prime Minister and the corresponding Minister as was the case before the constitutional changes.
Article 40 of the constitution states: “If the absence of the King lasts more than four months, the Parliament will look into the situation and if the parliament is not in session it is called to look into this.”
The entries in the official gazette note that the King visited the United State five times in 2016 as compared to four visits in 2015. The first US visit followed a private visit to the United Kingdom early in the year. During the visit, the King met with US President Barak Obama at the Andrews Military Base outside of Washington, before both left. No summit took place during that visit but the King did meet the US army chief of staff. One month later the King returned to the US and this time he had a summit meeting with Obama and they both discussed the fight against extremism, terrorism, the Syrian conflict and the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis.
The third visit of the monarch took place during the nuclear security summit. The fourth was when the King participated in the Economic Forum in Sun Valley in the American state of Idaho. This was followed by a private visit which was the longest visit of the King in 2016. It last which lasted 25 days in July during which he missed the Arab summit held in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Prime Minister Hani Molki attended instead of the King.
In the middle of September the King made the final visit in 2016 to the US to attend the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly which also was the same day that Jordan held its elections for the eighteenth parliament.
The King left Jordan on five private visits, three were declared according to the King’s website to England and then to the US. At the end of the Sun Valley Summit in Idaho the King and Queen held a private visit at an undisclosed location. The King’s website and the media department didn’t announce the location of the three other visits or any activities conducted during those visits.
The United Kingdom was the most visited European country. The King visited the United Kingdom three times in 2016. In February the King visited England just before it voted to exit the EU. The King participated in the London donor’s conference which many in Jordan were counting on to uplift the economy following the Syrian conflict.
The King visited Scotland and participated in the Edinburgh royal military festival which is the biggest festival of its kind for military music, according to the King’s website.
The King visited the Federal Republic of Germany twice once to participate in the Munich Security Conference and later where he met with German President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel. The King was awarded a peace prize during the second visit.
Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union was visited twice by the King. Ireland and Poland also were visited during 2016.
The King visited Saudi Arabs twice once to attend the military parade of the forces participating in the Northern Thunder exercise in Hafer al Baten. The second was a summit with King Salman where the two discussed regional issues as well as Jordan-Saudi relations, according to the King’s website.
The King also met with the Saudi monarch in the Moroccan city of Tanja in August where King Salman was vacationing.
The United Arab Emirates also welcomed the King twice in 2016. The King visited once, Kuwait, Egypt, Cyprus, Australia, and Kenya.
In accordance to article 28 D of the constitution, the King appointed his brother Faisal Ibn Hussein, 53 years old, as his deputy. Prince Faisal was appointed deputy twenty times which is exactly the same number as last year. During the King’s absence, Prince Faisal approved the National Committee Law for International Humanitarian Law. He also approved nine regulations.
Before his last departure, the King appointed Prince Faisal head of the National Policies Council.
Prince Raed Ben Zeid, 81 years, was appointed the King’s deputy three times and he approved seven regulations.
Prince Ali was appointed deputy three times, and the King’s son prince Hussein the regent, 22 years, was appointed deputy to the King twice. Neither signed any laws or approved any regulations.
All 28 royal decrees appointing a deputy made an exception to the power of amending the constitution, declaring war, signing a peace treaty or approving a convention as stated in article 33/11 of the constitution. The exception also included appointing or removing the prime Ministers or any Minister or accepting their resignations in accordance to article 35 of the constitution.
The recent constitutional amendments cancelled the need for the prime Minister or the appropriate Minister to sign the decrees appointing the King’s deputy.
The prime Minister and the Minister of Interior did sign 12 royal decrees to appoint a deputy to the King, before the constitutional changes They were signed by PM Abdallah Ensour except for one signed by the current prime Minister Hani Molki. Minister of Interior Salameh Hamad signed eight of the decrees and Mazen Qadi signed three while Minister Ahmad Zaidat signed one.
After the new constitutional amendment to article 40 took effect, the King issued 16 decrees to appoint deputes without the signature of the prime Minister or the Minister of Interior.
The only action carried out by the Prime Minister after the amendments was to announce the departure of the King and his return in the official gazette. Prime Minister Ensour and Molki made the announcements f the King’s travels as well as deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Thneibat.