CALLS for the ousting of Jordan’s King Abdullah II grew yesterday, as thousands of protesters packed the streets of the capital.
Larger groups have demonstrated in Amman since the unrest sparked by fuel price hikes started three days ago, but yesterday’s march constituted the biggest single bloc yet to call for the end of the monarch’s regime.
Similar rallies turned unusually violent earlier this week, with one person killed and 75 others, including 58 police, injured.
The protesters, frustrated over a sharp rise in fuel prices, were led by a mixture of activists including the largely secular Hirak youth movement, the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, and various nationalist and left-wing groups. Jordan is plagued by poverty, unemployment and high inflation.
“I already can barely feed my four children, how can I afford this price increase?” asked Thaer Mashaqbeh, 47, a civil servant protesting in central Amman, as the crowd chanted: “Abdullah, you either reform or you go.”
The government has defended the fuel price rise, saying it was necessary to reduce a massive budget deficit and foreign debt, part of Jordan’s efforts to secure a badly-needed $2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to shore up the kingdom’s shaky finances.
Thousands of pro-government loyalists took to the streets nationwide yesterday to support the king, waving batons and threatening his critics.