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Jordanians protest price hikes, demand government ouster

1,500 take to street in protest organized by Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood over economic woes

Jordanians take part in a protest after the Friday prayer in the capital Amman, on February 24, 2017 against the government's decision to impose new taxes on a string of goods and services, calling on the cabinet to resign. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)
Jordanians take part in a protest after the Friday prayer in the capital Amman, on February 24, 2017 against the government's decision to impose new taxes on a string of goods and services, calling on the cabinet to resign. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

AMMAN, Jordan — Hundreds of Jordanians protested Friday across the kingdom against the government’s decision to impose new taxes on a string of goods and services, calling on the cabinet to resign.

The government earlier this month imposed new sales taxes on internet and mobile use, bread, domestic fuel and petrol, cigarettes and fizzy drinks.

Around 1,500 Jordanians took to the streets of downtown Amman after weekly Muslim prayers at the Husseini Mosque in a protest organized by the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.

The demonstrators marched from the mosque to the seat of the nearby municipality chanting slogans demanding the ouster of the government and venting anger at the price rises.

“The people of Jordan are on fire, all because of the rise in prices,” some chanted, AFP correspondents said.

“The government that raises prices must fall, the government that impoverishes people must go,” was another rallying cry, as demonstrators held up signs that read: “Raising prices is playing with fire.”

Jordanians take part in a protest after the Friday prayer in the capital Amman, on February 24, 2017 against the government's decision to impose new taxes on a string of goods and services, calling on the cabinet to resign. AFP/ Khalil MAZRAAWI)
Jordanians take part in a protest after the Friday prayer in the capital Amman, on February 24, 2017 against the government’s decision to impose new taxes on a string of goods and services, calling on the cabinet to resign. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

Similar protests were also staged in the northwestern city of Salt, as well as in the regions of Karak and Madaba, south of the capital.

The price rises come as Jordan faces a public debt of about $35 billion and after Amman struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund to secure a $723 million three-year credit line.

The loan, the IMF said in August, is aimed at supporting Jordan’s government to push through with an economic and financial reform programme.

Jordan’s economy has been rattled from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the country has taken hundreds of thousands of refugees from its neighbors over the years, stretching its meagre resources.

Growth has slumped and unemployment has jumped to 14 percent of the kingdom’s population of 9.5 million, with the young the worst hit, according to government figures, while unofficial estimates put it as high as 30%.

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