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Jordanians take to streets in protests against rising prices

Demonstrators called for the resignation of the country's prime minister as they marched against the increased cost of food and fuel, despite government measures to soften prices.

AMMAN // Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets yesterday in half a dozen Jordanian cities to protest against the increased cost of food and fuel, despite government measures to soften prices.

Demonstrators marched in downtown Amman after midday prayers. More than 5,000 people took part in the protests across the country, security sources said.

Mansour Murad, a former member of parliament told The National: "We don't want a government that is influenced by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Such policies of privatisation and increased taxes ruined the economy."

Similar demonstrations took place in the cities of Maan, Karak, Salt, Madaba and Irbid.

The march in the capital was one of several nationwide demonstrations organised by the Jordan Social Leftist Movement, an opposition party, protesting the rising prices of basic commodities.

As scores of police stood on guard, demonstrators in downtown Amman raised banners that read, "Jordan is not only for the rich", and others read: "Hunger is a red line".

Mohammad, 25, a student from Amman, said: "We want to defend our rights; we do not want to see a rich class and a poor one. The rich are not affected by the price hikes."

Hussam Mahdawi, also from Amman, said: "Hunger turns people into apostates,"

The Muslim Brotherhood, its political arm the Islamic Action Front, and the country's 14 trade unions said they would hold a sit-in outside parliament tomorrow.

Last month the inflation rate rose to 6.1 per cent from 5.6 per cent in November, while year-on-year inflation accelerated by five per cent by the end of 2010, according to figures from the Department of Statistics.

The government increased the prices of fuel by nine per cent by the end of last year, sparking protests.

On Tuesday, the government approved a 120 million Jordanian dinars (Dh622m) package to soften the impact of food prices that rose internationally.

smaayeh@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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