In 1989 local government authorities were essentially an extension of the central government seated in Amman. Under the general supervision and control of the Ministry of Interior, the local units operated at the governorate (sing., Liwaa; pl., alwiyah), municipality, township and village (or town) levels. The East Bank was divided into the eight governorates of Amman, Al Balqa, Irbid, Az Zarqa, Al Mafraq, Al Karak, At Tafilah, and Maan. Each governorate was subdivided into districts (sing., qada) and subdistricts (sing., nahiya). The subdistricts comprised towns, villages, and rural areas. Each of the eight governorates was headed by an appointed commissioner. These commissioners were the principal agents of the king and supervised and coordinated the activities of various central government functions within their respective administrative divisions.
The basic administrative unit was the village or town. The towns and larger villages had municipal councils elected by popular vote. The normal practice was for the minister of municipal, rural, and environmental affairs to confirm as mayor the council member who received the highest number of votes in each municipal election. Smaller villages continued to be governed by traditional headmen known as mukhtars. The village and town authorities had limited responsibilities for administration of markets, law and order, sanitation, and other community activities.
The central government provided for local-level social services such as education, health, welfare, and public works. The multiplication and extension of government services during the 1970s and 1980s increased the influence of central authorities throughout the country. The elimination of tribal law in 1976 attested to the all-pervasiveness of central government penetration even in rural areas where tribal leaders traditionally had provided security and limited welfare services.
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