JORDAN PROTESTS: Jordanians plan ‘day of anger’ to speed reforms 22Feb11 February 25, 2011

Middle East Online -  22 February 2011

Jordan’s powerful Islamist opposition said it plans to stage a “day of anger” demonstration with other parties on Friday to demand reforms, in what they hope will be the largest protest since January.

“Around 10,000 members of the Islamist movement as well as supporters of 19 political parties will take part in the march to call for reforms,” Zaki Bani Rsheid of the Islamic Action Front (IAF) executive committee said on Wednesday.

“Demonstrations will also take place in other governorates,” said Bani Rsheid, whose party is the political arm of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood.

“We have given the government time to translate its reform plan into action, but we felt its lax attitude to taking practical steps and that it is stalling for time,” he said.

The Islamists have limited their participation in protests in recent weeks after starting a dialogue with the government and following King Abdullah II’s reform pledges.

“Despite the promises, we have not been contacted to become part of a dialogue concerning any amendments to the electoral law, which is the cornerstone of reform,” said Bani Rsheid.

The IAF boycotted the last general election in November in protest against constituency boundaries set up under a new electoral law, which it said over-represented rural areas considered loyal to the government.

The Islamists and other parties said Friday’s demonstration “also seeks to denounce violence,” in which eight people were hurt last week when a mob wielding batons waded into a pro-reform march in Amman.

The assault was the first reported violence since the launch of protests.

“Our protest will be a response to the thugs who attacked the protesters and to pressure the government to implement promised reforms,” Bani Rsheid said, adding the identity of the attackers was still unknown to the party.

“If the government or its supporters commit acts similar to last Friday’s, we will demand the downfall of the government.”

Supporters of leftist parties said that they plan to spend the night on Thursday outside Al-Husseini Mosque, in the city centre where they were attacked last Friday.

The government has condemned the violence, and Justice Minister Hussein Mujalli said on Sunday a probe into the incident was underway.

Demonstrations erupted in Jordan in January to protest against rising cost of living and demand economic and political reforms.

They were inspired by a popular revolt that ousted Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14.

The king sacked the government of Samir Rifai on February 1, and named Maaruf Bakhit to head a cabinet tasked with introducing general reforms.

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