28 January 2011

Angry Jordan, Part III

Jordanian citizens took to the streets again today for the third consecutive Friday to protest our government. According to Ibrahim Alloush it isn’t a question of replacing the Prime Minister with someone else, but rather demanding changes in the way the country is run. According to Alloush Parliament is merely a “rubber stamp” for the Executive Branch and that Jordanians have been led to protest in the absence of any real venues for relief through legal methods.

In addition to the estimated 3,500 protesters in downtown Amman another 2,500 Jordanians were in the streets in six other cities throughout the kingdom. The number of the demonstrators was buttressed by the presence of Islamic Action Front (political branch of Muslim Brotherhood). They gathered outside al-Husseini mosque and processed down the street chanting “In the name of God, the government must change!” and “Qura’n is our constitution, jihad is our path!”.

His Majesty, King Abdullah II has promised reforms, including the controversial election law. Generally, people do not believe he will acede to demands for popular election of the Prime Minister and Cabinet officials. By tradition those roles are Royal Appointments.

Also being protested is the repressive taxation that has almost broken the back of the working class in Jordan. The economy is struggling under a record deficit of $2 billions this year as inflation has soared to 6.1% just last month. Unemployment stands at 12% and around 25% of the populace live below the poverty line.

The Prime Minister, Samir Rifai, announced new subsidies over the last two weeks amounting to around $550 millions for fuel, rice, sugar, livestock and LP gas as well as giving a pay rise for civil servants and security personnel. The announcement was received with derision by the protesters. Suhair Asaaf, an electrical mechanic and Muslim Brotherhood member said “They lie to the people. They reduce some things and increase others more.”

Mahmoud Thiabat, a 31 year old father of three is a civil servant earning $395 per month. He says “The government buys cars and spends lavishly on its parties and travel, while many Jordanians are jobless or can barely put food on their tables to feed their hungry children.”

His Majesty met with Parliament Speaker and committee heads yesterday promising “transparency, frankness and dialogue on all domestic issues to strengthen citizen’s confidence in their national institutions.” He said “There is a lot of talk in the society about issues like corruption, nepotism and favoritism which must be debated and responded to”. He further added that some of the “issues are right, others are not. But citizens have the right to have a candid answer.”

Labib Kamhawi, an independent analyst calls the king’s pledges “cosmetic” and more needs to be done while another man described them as “window dressing”. However, Kamhawi further stated that “Nobody wants to see a regime change in Jordan, like in Tunisia or Egypt. But People here want to see accountability, transparency, an end to corruption in government circles and wider public freedoms and popular participation in the decision-making.”

May God be with us all.

Left: We want to plant what we eat, Right: Selling public sector, selling people's future

Caution 111 members of Parliament, we are about to explode!

Dear government, what about teacher's 280 JD salary? Do you want me to beg??!!

Down with the Rifai government

We want a saving government

11 billion dollars, our debt because of previous governments

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