On June 1, 2016, His Majesty King Abdullah appointed our friend and partner, Mayor of Tafileh Khaled Al Huneifat, as Jordan’s Minister of State.
Days earlier, in an Independence Day celebration, His Majesty honored Huneifat with the Order of Independence of the Third Class for the development projects he enacted in Tafileh, and IRI is proud to have worked with him to achieve his deserved success. Such incredible accomplishments are a testament to our work as an organization, but, more importantly, to the willingness of leaders to fight for democratic reform, even in a region where it is so often contested.
IRI takes a long-term approach to our work. We build longstanding and resilient relationships with our local partners to advance the democratic development of the countries in which we work. This approach applies to our local governance work, where we develop relationships with both citizens – the governed – and the governing. Huneifat became one of the most ardent champions of good governance in his community of Tafileh, and his accomplishments are a testament to IRI’s long-term partnership approach.
During his previous tenure in 2011, Huneifat participated in IRI’s Rising Stars exchange, an initiative launched in 2007 to ease the transition of emerging democratic leaders to power. Our Rising Stars program provides new leaders with the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure transparent governance and respond to challenges with sound and proven policies. Of all our participants, Huneifat is one of our greatest successes and deserving of our highest praise.
Huneifat partnered with IRI in 2008 and quickly became known and respected for implementing the skills he developed during IRI exchange trips and trainings. He came to office on a platform of change, and with the help of IRI, his actions did not fall short of his promise. After IRI training that included best practices from around the globe, he shared the Tafileh’s municipal budget with his constituents, established a youth committee and held multiple town hall meetings. After IRI published the findings of a poll conducted in Jordan, he turned his efforts to road building and maintenance in Tafileh in an effort to change the opinions expressed in that survey. Time after time, he let transparency and responsiveness define his term. He regularly visited with the people of Tafileh and always kept his office doors open to them. He knew the challenges his constituents faced, and more importantly, he responded to those challenges. Huneifat was the ideal candidate for the Rising Stars exchange, and he has only continued to impress us since.
After his Rising Stars exchange trip to Slovakia, Huneifat further excelled as Mayor of Tafileh, powered by the democratic values and best practices he took so seriously. After Jordanian municipalities were disbanded in 2011, Huneifat became one of the select few mayors appointed to continue his mayoral duties. Huneifat returned to the office of mayor in March 2015 and continues to improve road maintenance, infrastructure, cleanliness and local government efficiency in his city.
Huneifat has governed skillfully, transparently and justly as evidenced by the honors he received this week. We are so proud of our long-time friend, and we echo the praises offered by his Majesty. Huneifat’s promise and dedication continues to inspire all of us here at IRI, and we thank him for his years of working with us to make good governance a world-wide norm.