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Jordan protests: Amman pledges ‘tougher’ measures against rioting

Jordanian security forces deploy their armored vehicles in the southern city of Ma'an, December 16, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Jordan’s interior minister says the country will take tough steps and redeploy more anti-riot police to quell demonstrations against fuel price hikes.

Clashes on Thursday led to the death of a police officer.

On Friday, Minister Mazin Farrayeh addressed a press conference, saying the government would allow peaceful protests but there will be no tolerance for “rioting” that inflicts damage to public and private property.

“We have seen a large jump in violent acts,” Farrayeh said. “After what happened, there will be tougher security measures to reinforce the security forces in the areas that witness such acts.”

Jordanians staged sit-ins on Friday amid calls by activists for more demonstrations over the price hikes. Protesters say the rises have added to the squeeze on households.

Meanwhile, protests in the southern province of Ma’an turned violent on Thursday as Colonel Abdul Razzaq Dalabeh, the deputy provincial police chief, was shot in the head. According to a statement by the Public Security Directorate (PSD), the slain officer was hit when he was dealing with “rioting” by a group of outlaws in the town of al-Husseiniya. Witnesses say government property in the city came under attack.

Tensions have been growing in Ma’an and several provinces in southern Jordan in the wake of strikes by truck drivers protesting against high fuel prices. The drivers demand the government reduce diesel prices, which they blame for their mounting losses.

According to reports, sporadic protests continued in Ma’an as people staged sit-ins in front of the main mosque and a mosque in the capital Amman after Friday prayers.

Reports indicate a slowdown in internet services in several regions in a bid to restrict access to social media.

The government has promised to examine truck strikers’ demands but says it has already paid more than 500 million dinars ($700 million) to cap fuel prices this year and cannot do much more if it wants to avoid breaching an International Monetary Fund deal.

Other protests in recent years have usually been peaceful and involved demands for democratic reforms and calls to curb corruption.

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