Young Jordanians stage Amman protests

AFP , Friday 1 Apr 2011

March 24 group holds city hall sit-in one week after fatal security crackdown, demanding constitutional reform and corruption trials

Jordan
Demonstrators shout anti-government slogans during the funeral of Saad Khairy in Amman 27 March 2011. (Reuters)

Hundreds of youths held a sit-in protest Friday in Jordan's capital to call for reforms, a week after clashes between them and government supporters killed a man and injured 160.

"Down with oppression. The people want regime and constitutional reforms, and trials for the corrupt. We want national unity," about 600 members of the March 24 movement chanted outside Amman's city hall.

Around 50 government supporters gathered in an area close to the demonstrators, holding large pictures of King Abdullah II and expressing their "loyalty and allegiance" to the monarch as well as "commitment to the kingdom."

Nearly 400 policemen were deployed, while Jordan's National Centre for Human Rights sent representatives as observers.

The March 24 group now mainly includes opposition Islamists after leftist and nationalist parties withdrew from the movement over "ideological differences."

"It's up to the regime now to work on reform. We are peaceful, but a government that kills citizens cannot be trusted with reforms and cannot lead the people. We need a national government," said Zaki Bani Rsheid, head of the political office of the Islamic Action Front (IAF).

Last Friday, a 55-year-old protester died and 160 people were injured when police broke up a pro-reform protest camp following a stone attack by loyalists against young demonstrators near the interior ministry.

"We are here today to stress popular demands for reform and show that what happened last Friday will not scare us and will not stop us from seeking reforms," Bani Rsheid told AFP.

Following the violence, the government decided to ban its supporters from demonstrating in the capital, while the opposition was allowed to demonstrate in specially designated areas in Amman.

The king has condemned the violence and vowed to fight attempts to "sabotage" the country's reform drive.

A government-appointed committee for national dialogue has suspended its work after 15 of its members quit over the clashes, but following a meeting with the king, 12 of them retracted their resignations.

 

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