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Fri Jun 8, 2012 5:42PM
Jordanians hold a protest rally to condemn government plans to increase fuel prices. (File Photo)

Jordanians hold a protest rally to condemn government plans to increase fuel prices. (File Photo)

The people of Jordan have rallied in the capital, Amman, to protest against the government’s decision to raise fuel and electricity prices to ease budget deficit. About a thousand protesters took to the streets of Amman after Friday Prayers to express their anger about the government's decision to raise prices to make up for huge budget deficit, which is expected to reach about USD 3 billion by the end of 2012. Protesters also condemned government's failure to enact the promised political reforms. "Reform so far is not convincing and does not meet with the needs of Jordanian citizens. Secondly, we protest against the government's policies for raising the prices," said Hamzeh Mansour, the leader of the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. "We are protesting against the government policy of raising prices. We say the government [has] abandoned its duty and has only the pockets of citizens to pay for its debts," he added. On May 26, Jordanian cabinet announced that the prices of premium petrol have increased to one dinar ($1.4) from 0.795 dinars per liter, an almost 20-percent hike, and electricity tariffs have been also substantially raised for major industrial and service sectors of the economy, including banks and hotels. The government, however, did not raise lower grade ordinary gasoline prices used by lower-income Jordanians, the majority of the country's population, in a bid to avoid more street protests. Jordan says it had to raise electricity prices after the disruption of regular Egyptian gas imports which forced the kingdom to switch to much more expensive diesel to cover its electricity needs. Egypt gas imports support 80 percent of Jordan's electricity generation. Jordanians have been holding street protests demanding political reforms, including the election of the prime minister by popular votes, and an end to corruption since January 2011. There have been no calls for the king to be removed. Since the beginning of protest rallies, Jordanian ruler, King Abdullah II, has sacked three prime ministers in a bid to contain protests. The king has also amended 42 articles of the 60-year-old constitution, giving parliament a stronger role in decision-making. HM/SS
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