Jordanians rally against corruption and poverty

Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:17pm GMT

By Suleiman al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordanian activists rallied outside government offices Saturday as they tried to step up their campaign to force Prime Minister Samir Rifai to step down.

Inspired by unrest in Tunisia and elsewhere in the region, about 200 Jordanians gathered outside the prime minister's office shouting "Our government is a bunch of thieves" and holding banners reading "No to poverty or hunger."

"We've come from distant, rural areas to Amman to ask Rifai to leave," said Mohammed Sunaid, a prominent labour activist.

"We call for the overthrow of this government that has destroyed the poor. This government should be for all Jordanians not just the rich."

Jordan is struggling with its worst economic downturn in decades. The government has announced measures to cut prices of essentials, create jobs and raise salaries of civil servants.

Protesters say the moves do not go far enough and have staged rallies calling for the reversal of free-market reforms which many blame for a widening gap between rich and poor.

Protesters say the sale of state assets to foreign investors over the past decade has enriched the country's business and political elite but has done little to help the poor.

"We want a special court that will put on trial all those who sold the property of the Jordanian people ...," Sunaid said.   Continued...

<p>Jordanian demonstrators protest against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in front of the Egyptian embassy in Amman January 29, 2011. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed</p>
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