Jordanians rally against corruption and poverty

AMMAN Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:16pm EST

1 of 2. A Jordanian demonstrator protests against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in front of the Egyptian embassy in Amman January 29, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Muhammad Hamed

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordanian activists rallied outside government offices 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 labor 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.

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.

Unlike Tunis or Egypt, the Jordanian state has long focused its economic drive and budget money on developing rural areas.

But 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.

(Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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Comments (2)
Sinbad1 wrote:
All the domino’s are starting to fall and the discontent is focused by the lack of affordable food. The price of food is a result of the financial crises. The financial crises was caused by Goldman Sachs selling dodgy bonds.
I wonder how Lloyd Blankfein feels about his ability to change the course of the world, pretty good I would say by the smirk he always seems to have when photographed.

Jan 30, 2011 12:15am EST  --  Report as abuse
Eric.Klein wrote:
Jordan is not like Tunisia or Egypt where there is an “elected” government even if it has been in power for decades. Jordan has a king (and a Palestinian Queen), so changing the Prime Minister and government will not change the conditions in the country as they have a king that was imposed upon them by the British plus 65% of their population is Palestinian and has been repressed for 40 years.

Bigger changes will be needed to change their situation.

Jan 30, 2011 8:00am EST  --  Report as abuse
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