Jordanian Islamists protest against new parliament

Protesters from the Islamic Action Front and other opposition parties shout slogans to demand political and economic reform, and access to corruption cases, during a demonstration after Friday prayers in Amman. (Reuters)

Hundreds of Islamists demonstratedin Jordan on Friday to demand faster political reform after anelection last month that produced a mostly pro-governmentparliament.

Supporters of the main opposition Muslim Brotherhood marchedfrom the main Husseini mosque to downtown Amman in the firstsuch protest since the Jan. 23 ballot, which the group boycottedsaying electoral rules were loaded against it.

"Reform is what is required. Justice and freedom and notthese sham elections and deputies," protesters chanted.

The Brotherhood boycott of Jordan's first parliamentary pollsince Arab uprisings began two years ago left an assemblydominated by conservative tribal figures and some businessmen.

Islamist leaders they would pursue demands for an overhaulof an electoral law that favours rural, tribal areas andunder-represents cities where the Brotherhood is strong.

More than two thirds of Jordan's seven million people livein cities but are allocated less than a third of assembly seats.

"The Jordanian people have resumed their protests to assertthat the reform movement is not over," the Brotherhood's deputyleader, Zaki Bin Rushaid, told Reuters. "The legislation and thepast elections do not satisfy the demands of the people."

Popular demonstrations in Jordan have been on a smallerscale than those which toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia andwhich led to armed conflicts in Libya and Syria.

Some protesters angered by corruption have called for theoverthrow of King Abdullah, but most have demanded reform thatwould limit the powers of the U.S.-backed monarch.

The Islamist demonstrators called for constitutional changesthat would go further than last year's reforms which devolvedsome of the king's prerogatives to parliament.

"We want to change the constitution, we want to reform theregime so the country moves ahead," scores of youths chanted.

King Abdullah, who has previously handpicked his primeministers, this month asked his royal court chief to canvasmembers of parliament on who should lead the next government.

A new government is expected to be formed in the next twoweeks, but no prime minister has yet been named

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Last Update: Sunday, 03 March 2013 KSA 15:00 - GMT 12:00
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