Jordan’s interior minister steps down after elections breached coronavirus lockdown

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Jordan’s interior minister resigned on Thursday after a public outcry at gatherings and troubles in the aftermath of parliamentary elections that breached a five-day national lockdown aimed at curbing a surge in COVID-19 cases, state media said.

Interior Minister Tawfiq al Halalmah said he took “moral” responsibility for the unruly events that followed announcements of the results of parliamentary elections held on Tuesday where most candidates appeal to voters along mostly tribal and family loyalty lines.

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The government had announced this month it planned the first such lengthy lockdown since easing measures last summer, to ensure the polls for a new four-year assembly would not lead to a spike in an already alarming surge in cases.

Jordan which has now become one of the region’s most heavily hit countries, posted 5,685 new daily infections and 80 deaths on Thursday, bringing its total to 132,086 cases and 1,547 deaths since the pandemic surfaced in March.

The resignation of the interior minister came shortly after King Abdullah in a tweet expressed his indignation at the scenes widely circulating on social media which he said endangered the lives of Jordanians as they struggle to curb the pandemic.

Social media footage verified by witnesses showed thousands of supporters taking to the streets since Tuesday night where celebratory gunfire was widely used. In some provincial areas such as Mafraq, trouble broke out with supporters of losing candidates attacking some public property.

Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh’s government has sent heavy police reinforcements to areas where trouble had broken out to enforce emergency laws. Police officials said scores were arrested, among them candidates who stood in the elections.

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