Thousands across Jordan protest corruption, reform delay

May 20, 2011

Amman – Thousands took to the streets in Amman and other major Jordanian cities after Friday prayers to protest what demonstrators saw as the government’s failure to fight corruption and the delay in adopting political and economic reforms.

Protesters in particular called for the resignation of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit’s government and the dissolution of the lower house of parliament.

At least two demonstrations were organized in Amman by the Islamic-led opposition and trade unions to protest police use of force Sunday to disperse hundreds of activists trying to reach the Israel-controlled border with the West Bank to express support for Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes in Israel.

At least 25 people, including 11 policemen and a number of journalists, were injured in the clashes that were condemned by the country’s main media establishments.

A demonstration was also organized Friday near the Israeli embassy in the neighborhood of Rabia, with participants calling for the closure of the Israeli diplomatic mission and the abrogation of the peace treaty Jordan concluded with the Jewish state in 1994.

In Tafileh, 180 kilometers south of Amman, hundreds of demonstrators chanted slogans and raised placards urging Bakhit to resign, saying he had failed to adopt the required reforms as tasked by King Abdullah II, witnesses said.

Rallies were also reported in the city of Zarqa, 30 kilometers east of Amman, and in Karak, 120 kilometers south of the capital.

Demonstrators criticized the government for allowing the departure from the country of prominent businessman Khalid Shahin, who was serving three years in jail after the State Security Court found him guilty of bribery in connection with a petroleum refinery expansion deal.

The sharp rise in the number of demonstrations on Friday came after a lull of three weeks to give the government time to adopt the demanded political reforms, foremost the drafting of new laws for elections and political parties, organizers said.

Source: Monsters and Critics.

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