Thousands of supporters of local Muslim Brotherhood branch marched in the capital, Amman, to slam corruption and speed up political reforms, a day after King Abdullah ordered dissolution of Jordan’s parliament.
Over 50,000 people were expected to take part in the "Friday to Rescue the Nation" demonstration called by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front (IAF) political arm. AFP reporters estimate some 15,000 people joined, but this was enough to make the rally one of the largest since Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted last year.
"The corrupt are God's enemies" and "For how long will the regime protect corrupt officials?" read the placards of the protesters flocking to the main street leading to the Husseini mosque in downtown Amman after Friday prayers.
“Democratic electoral law, constitutional changes, parliamentary governments, independent judiciary, constitutional court, effective anti-corruption efforts and preventing security services from interfering in political life,” said another large banner spelling out the demonstrators' demands.
The Friday protest focused on demands for reforms that would create a less centralized government and ensure more opposition seats in parliament. The IAF is outraged that the 120-member lower chamber of the parliament still provides only 27 seats for party candidates, even after the MPs managed to raise this number from just 17 seats.
The demonstration also insisted on the right to elect the prime minister. At the moment, this is the king’s privilege.
Some 2,000 police were deployed to the capital of Middle Eastern country, while pro-king demonstrations had got suspended as organizers want to prevent clashes.
The protest convened despite King Abdullah’s Thursday orders to dissolve the two-year-old parliament. Though the monarch did not elaborate on the dates of new elections, the poll is expected to take place by the end of 2012.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the only effective opposition in the country, is already threatening to boycott the election, as they did in 2010, unless demands for wider representations are met. They say that while the dissolution was “expected”, this is “not the right step forward.”
There should be democratic election law reform and "real" changes to Jordan's constitution, says IAF Deputy General Secretary Nimer Assaf.
Abdullah, who ascended Jordan's throne in 1999, has been facing waves of unrest since January 2011. The current laws allow the king to personally appoint senators, the cabinet and the prime minister. The ruling system has also been slammed by the opposition for political discrimination of Jordanians of the Palestinian origin, who feel they are kept from power by the native Jordanians.
With tensions escalating, Abdullah pledged in June 2011 the government would in the future be elected, not appointed. But this initiative was left without any specific timetable.
On Septeber 2, the Jordanian parliament signed a motion of no confidence against the government of Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh. The PM was blamed for rising fuel prices and accused "of recent appointments in top posts based on nepotism," the official local news agency stated.