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Jordanians protest fuel price hikes, demand reforms

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Hundreds of Jordanians marched and protested in several cities on Friday against rising fuel prices, according to Al Arabiya, as they called for political and economic reform.

Around 300 people, including Islamists and leftists, demonstrated in front the Grand Mosque in the center of Amman, chanting slogans that included calls for the government to step down.

“This government has to go,” and “those who want to raise (fuel) prices want to see the country burn,” they shouted.

The protest ended peacefully in the presence of security forces and around 100 government supporters.

Protesters in the Kingdom’s capital burned their voter IDs, saying they refuse to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections to be held by the beginning of next year, according to Al Arabiya’s correspondent.

Participating activists and opposition factions called for abolishing the State’s Security Court, in addition to ending the prosecution of activists and releasing those arrested over the past days, the correspondent said.

The protesters also urged King Abdullah to intervene and stop the decision to raise prices, calling him to stand by the people’s side, reported Al Arabiya.

In Zarqa, east of Amman, around 200 people protested in a demonstration organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, and protesters also gathered in Maan and other towns in the south of the country, security officials told AFP.

A government announcement last week that fuel prices were set to rise, including household gas by up to 53 percent, sparked a series of protests.

Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur defended the price hike, saying the decision was “unavoidable” given the country’s $5-billion (3.9-billion-euro) budget deficit, and that the measures would save $42 million by year end.

Initial protests against the announcement descended into violence, with one person killed and 71 injured, police said.

Jordan relies on imports for 95 percent of its energy needs and has been struggling to find affordable alternatives to Egyptian gas supplies, which have been repeatedly hit by sabotage.

Oil-rich Gulf monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council were considering ways to help Jordan shore up its fuel supplies, the United Arab Emirates said on Monday.