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Jordanians Step Up Protests Calling for PM’s Resignation

Jordanians step up protests calling for PM’s resignation

By ABDUL JALIL MUSTAFA | ARAB NEWS

Published: Jun 3, 2011 22:33 Updated: Jun 3, 2011 22:33

AMMAN:

Jordanians demonstrated in Amman and other major cities on Friday calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit’s government and the abrogation of a peace treaty with Israel.

Hundreds of activists belonging to the Islamic-led opposition took to the streets after Friday prayers at the Grand Husseini Mosque in central Amman.

They raised placards and chanted slogans calling on Bakhit to resign, saying he had failed to carry out the needed political reforms, and for the dissolution of the lower house of parliament.

Protesters said they were marking the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan.

Among the slogans chanted were "No Israeli embassy on the Jordanian land," "Reform is our path to the liberation of Jerusalem” and "the people want to liberate Palestine."

The Jordanian government concluded a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, but a coalition of opposition parties and trade unions still refuse any normalization of ties with the Jewish state.

In Tafileh, 180 kilometers south of Amman, more than 1,000 citizens demonstrated urging the downfall of Bakhit’s Cabinet as well as prompt punishment for those who were behind the flight from the country of the convicted businessman Khalid Shahin.

Shahin was serving a three-year jail term after the State Security Court found him guilty of bribery in his bid to acquire a $1.2-billion contract for the expansion of the Jordan Petroleum Refinery.

The authorities surprised the public opinion by allowing him to leave the country on Feb. 25 for medical treatment under the pretext his illness could not be treated locally.

Bakhit fired two of his ministers last week, conceding their responsibility for the decision.

A demonstration was also reported in the city of Karak, 120 kilometers south of Amman, to press demands for reform, including the change of the government.

Dozens of media men and activists demonstrated in front of the premier’s office in Amman on Friday demanding the release of journalist Alaa Fazzaa.

Fazzaa was detained for 14 days on Wednesday on the charge of publishing an article deemed harmful for the throne’s establishment on the online news website he runs.




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