Jordanians protest over fuel prices

Protesters from opposition parties hold flags during a demonstration against the government's decision to lift fuel subsidies in Amman on 19 November 2012. (Reuters - Majed Jaber)

Published Monday, November 19, 2012

Hundreds of Jordanians demonstrated on Monday outside the prime minister's offices in protest against fuel price hikes that have met with public outcry over the past week, an AFP journalist said.

Around 500 protesters marched two kilometers from the headquarters of Jordan's joint unions body in west Amman to the premier's building, chanting "Those raising fuel prices want to see the country burn," and "Beware the people's wrath."

"The people want the fall of the regime," some chanted.

Jordanian unions staged a strike on Sunday to protest against the fuel price rises, which could see the cost of household gas rise by 53 percent.

Friday also saw unprecedented protests sparked by the fuel issue that included calls for King Abdullah II to go.

Calling for the king's overthrow is punishable by imprisonment in Jordan.

Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur on Saturday defended the price hike, saying the decision was "unavoidable" given the country's $5-billion (3.9-billion-euro) budget deficit, and that the measures would save $42 million by the year's end.

Initial protests on Wednesday and Thursday against the announcement of the price rise descended into violence, with one person killed when he tried to storm a police station, and 71 injured, according to police said.

Of 158 people arrested in connection with the unrest, 20 were subsequently released.

A judicial source told AFP on Monday that the public prosecutor had "charged 101 suspects with incitement against the government, rioting and illegal gathering." They added that among them were 13 minors who were indicted only on the second two charges.

Security agents in Jordan were interrogating 130 demonstrators who could face charges for calling for the downfall of King Abdullah.

Judicial officials told Reuters that the protesters had been detained for 15 days and could be charged with threatening the state.

(AFP, Reuters)

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