Jordanian security services have closed the Amman headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s main opposition force, a security source and lawyer for the movement said.
“Jordanian security searched the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood and evacuated it before sealing off the entrance with red wax,” lawyer Abdelkader al-Khatib told AFP news agency on Wednesday.
“This is clearly a political decision in line with what is happening in the region,” he said.
A security source told AFP that the movement’s headquarters were “closed on the order of the governor of the Jordanian capital as the Brotherhood did not obtain legal authorisation” for its activities.
The Jordanian authorities view the Brotherhood as an illegal organisation because its licence was not renewed in accordance with a political parties law adopted in 2014.
The Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was formed in Egypt in 1928 and has affiliates across the region, has wide grassroots support in the kingdom.
Tolerated for decades in Jordan, the Brotherhood has had tense relations with the authorities since the Arab Spring uprisings that shook the region in 2011.
In Egypt it has been blacklisted as a “terrorist group”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Amman, Badi al-Rafaia, spokesperson for the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, called the government’s decision “illegal”, “an act of martial law” and “politically motivated”.
The Amman governor, who is an official of the Jordanian interior ministry, “has no legal jurisdiction to close down the offices of his group”, he said.
If they had “legal issues that questioned the existence of our organisation, they should have moved the matter through the courts and legal channels”.
The intervention of the security services “has the sole purpose of influencing the upcoming elections and results”, Khatib said.
Jordan is expected to hold legislative elections by early next year. The Brotherhood boycotted previous elections in 2013 and 2010.
The movement accuses the authorities of trying to exploit divisions within the organisation.
Last year the government authorised the formation of a breakaway group known as the Muslim Brotherhood Association.