Thousands of Jordanians protest in support of reform

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 25, 2011 13:00 hrs

Amman, Feb 25 (DPA) More than 5,000 Jordanians took to the streets of Amman after Friday prayers to demand political reforms, including the dissolution of the lower house of parliament.

Scores of people also took part in a separate demonstration in support of the regime, eye witnesses said.

Hundreds of policemen were deployed in the capital's city centre to protect the main rally, which took off from the Grand Husseini Mosque and included opposition leaders, trade unionists and independent activists.

Officials want to avoid a repeat of last Friday's mob attack on pro-democracy activists, in which at least six people were injured.

The government has dissociated itself from the attack and has set up a panel to investigate the incident and determine the identity of the assailants.

The participants in Friday's rally also chanted slogans and raised placards in support of the Libyan uprising.

They called for shutting down the Israeli embassy in Amman and the restoration of the 1952 constitution, which provided for the formation of representative governments.

Since then, the constitution has been amended several times and in such a manner that it has reduced democracy in the country, critics say.

The demonstrations in Jordan over the past six weeks have been inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and have focused on political reforms, foremost the amendment of the election law to ensure that it produces a system of proportional representation.

King Abdullah II has pledged real and speedy political reforms and assigned the task to the new government led by Marouf Bakhit, who Thursday set up an eight-member ministerial committee for conducting dialogue with all shades of the political spectrum.

The panel is expected to conclude its work in three to six months' time.