Jordanians rally outside gov't offices

Jordanian activists rallied as they tried to step up their campaign to force Prime Minister Samir Rifai to step down.

Jordanians rally outside gov't offices

Jordanian activists rallied outside government offices on Saturday as they tried to step up their campaign to force Prime Minister Samir Rifai to step down.

Inspired by unrest in Tunisia and elsewhere in the region, about 200 Jordanians gathered outside the prime minister's office shouting "Our government is a bunch of thieves" and holding banners reading "No to poverty or hunger".

"We've come from distant, rural areas to Amman to ask Rifai to leave," said Mohammed Sunaid, a prominent labour activist.

"We call for the overthrow of this government that has destroyed the poor. This government should be for all Jordanians not just the rich."

Jordan is struggling with its worst economic downturn in decades. The government has announced measures to cut prices of essentials, create jobs and raise salaries of civil servants.

"Demands"

There was also protests on Friday as Islamists, leftists and trade unionists gathered in central Amman to demand political change and wider freedoms.

A crowd of at least 3,000 chanted: "We want change."

Banners and chants showed a wider range of grievances than the high food prices that fuelled earlier protests, and included demands for free elections, the dismissal of Prime Minister Samir Rifai's government and a representative parliament.

The protest after Friday prayers was organised by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood which is the only effective opposition and biggest party, but included members of leftist parties and trade unions.

"After Tunisia, Arab nations have found their way towards the path of political freedom and dignity," said Zaki Bani Rusheid, a leading Islamist politician.

Protesters say the moves do not go far enough and have staged rallies calling for the reversal of free-market reforms which many blame for a widening gap between rich and poor.

Protesters say the sale of state assets to foreign investors over the past decade has enriched the country's business and political elite but has done little to help the poor.

"We want a special court that will put on trial all those who sold the property of the Jordanian people ...," Sunaid said.

Others have called for constitutional reforms to curb the extensive power of the king who appoints cabinets, approves legislation and can dissolve parliament.

"We hope that citizens will be able to chose the government that represents them ...," said Ali Dalain, an activist and former deputy from the southern city of Karak.

Discontent has grown nonetheless as the economic downturn weakened the state's ability to create jobs in the public sector which has traditionally absorbed poor tribesmen in rural areas.


Agencies

Last Mod: 30 Ocak 2011, 11:52
Add Comment