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Protesters in Jordan demand political, economic reforms

By Amy Hybels, For CNN
Thousands demonstrated in Amman and other cities Friday, pressing for political and economic reform.
Thousands demonstrated in Amman and other cities Friday, pressing for political and economic reform.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protestors demonstrate in Amman and six other Jordanian cities, a police spokesman says
  • Demonstrators urge reforms to address unemployment, low wages and high prices
  • Protesters express solidarity with those in Egypt, saying, "Your redemption is near"

(CNN) -- Islamists, leftists and union members marched Friday in downtown Amman, demanding more significant economic and political reforms to help struggling citizens.

About 3,000 people gathered in the Jordanian capital for the event, according to national police spokesman Lt. Col. Mohammad Al Khateeb. Half of those demonstrated, while the remainder walked alongside or watched from the sidelines.

Al Khateeb said there were protests in six other cities on Friday, with crowd estimates totaling about 2,200.

The demonstrations in Amman were the third in as many Fridays, with protesters gathering in front of the Al Husseini Mosque to decry government policies they blame for rising prices, low wages and unemployment.

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There were also calls for Prime Minister Samir Rifai, who took office in December 2009, to step down, and for the dissolution of parliament.

The Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Jordan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, is also asking for an "elected government." Currently, the prime minister and cabinet are appointed by King Abdullah II.

In recent weeks, the government has announced several measures intended to ease citizens' economic hardships. These included reducing taxes on fuel derivatives and effectively subsidizing basic commodities.

The government last week also announced a pay raise -- 20 Jordanian dinars per month -- for civil servants, military personnel and retirees.

Still, protesters contended Friday that the measures don't go far enough.

Besides their demands of Jordan's government, those in Amman also showed solidarity with others in the Arab world who have recently taken to the streets to demand certain freedoms and urge the ouster of their governments.

Chanting, "Egyptian nation, our beloved -- your redemption is near," the Jordanian demonstrators spoke to the thousands of protesters in that north African country, who hit the streets Friday calling for an end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-rule.

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