Hundreds of Jordanians protest and urge reforms

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 18, 2011 4:03 PM

AMMAN (Reuters) - Hundreds of Jordanians marched through the Jordanian capital on Friday, demanding democratic reforms and an end to official corruption in a protest inspired by uprisings around the Arab world.

The mainly Islamist crowd, joined by liberal and leftist activists, marched after Friday prayers to a square in the center of Amman, shouting: "We want to reform the regime," and "we want to fight the thieves who have robbed the country."

In recent weeks, Jordanians have staged a number of anti-government protests, but the demonstrations have been smaller than in other Arab countries.

The opposition demands focus on free elections under a more representative electoral law that would form a government elected by a parliamentary majority and not one appointed by the king as at present.

"We want a truly representative parliament not one that is the outcome of vote-rigging," Jamil Abu Baker, a leading member of the Islamic Action Front, (IAF), the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, told the crowd.

Islamist organizers said protestors also staged several small marches across Jordan from the northern city of Irbid to the southern town of Karak.

Scattered sit-ins by disgruntled workers over pay and conditions have also been mounting in cities around Jordan in recent weeks in protest at erosion at rising poverty.

Jordan's King Abdullah's has so far responded to anti-government protests by sacking an unpopular prime minister last month and replacing him with a former intelligence general, a step seen as dealing a blow to Islamist and liberal hopes for reforms.

(Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Jon Hemming)