Jordan protests - AP - Jan 29, 2011
Jordanian protesters shout anti-government slogans during a demonstration at the Prime Minister office, in Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. Photo by AP
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More than 5,000 Jordanians took to the streets of Amman after Friday prayers to demand political reforms and the dissolution of the lower house of parliament.

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

Hundreds of policemen were deployed in the capital's city center 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 denied involvement in 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 held placards in support of the Libyan uprising. Participants included members of the left-wing opposition and the Muslim Brotherhood.

They also called for the shutting down of the Israeli embassy in Amman and the restoration of the Jordanian 1952 constitution, which allowed formation of representative governments.
Since its creation, the constitution has undergone several amendments, leading to restrictions on democracy, according to critics.

The demonstrations in Jordan over the past six weeks were inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that led to the both countries' leaders. The Jordanian protests have called political reforms, focusing chiefly on the amendment of the election law to ensure that it produces a system of proportional representation.

King Abdullah II has pledged concrete and immediate political reforms and assigned the task to the new government led by Marouf Bakhit, who on Thursday set up an eight-member ministerial panel to conduct dialogue with varied members of the political spectrum.
The panel is expected to conclude its work in three to six months' time.

Thousands marched in Yemen Friday, calling on the U.S. backed president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

In Iraq five people were killed in clashes between police and protesters.
Protesters in Cairo upheld their weekly Friday tradition, and tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out in the central Tahrir Square.