Hundreds of Jordanians Declare 'Popular Uprising' Over Rising Fuel Prices

Leftist, Islamist and independent activists called on the government to reverse a recent decision to lift fuel subsidies.

Hundreds of Jordanians declared a "popular uprising" against the government late Tuesday as nationwide protests over rising fuel prices entered their second week.

In a series of evening rallies across the country, leftist, Islamist and independent activists called on the government to reverse a recent decision to lift fuel subsidies, declaring a national "uprising" over Amman's economic policies.

Tuesday marked the seventh straight day of nationwide demos over fuel prices in Jordan, which in their first 72 hours resulted in some 200 arrests, over 70 injuries and the death of one citizen.

In the southern city of Karak, some 400 Jordanians denounced the decision, warning Amman that the economic crisis has become an "issue of dignity," chanting "regime listen, listen, the Jordanian people will not back down."

Meanwhile, some 200 protestors in the northern city of Irbid renewed recent calls for "regime change" in Jordan, chanting "behold the November uprising."

Recent calls for the ouster of King Abdullah II marks a dramatic escalation for Jordan's 22-month-old protest movement, which prior to the fuel crisis had limited its calls to "regime reform," urging for incremental democratic reforms.

Insulting the monarch remains punishable under Jordanian law, an offence that carries a prison term of up to 10 years.

Earlier on Tuesday, some 300 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan's largest political force rallied in Amman to condemn the fuel measure, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and the formation of an emergency national unity government.

Nationwide riots erupted within an hour of the government decision last week, which led to an immediate 33-per-cent rise in fuel prices and a doubling in the costs of cooking and heating gas.

Amman has resisted calls to reverse its decision, claiming that the slashing of the 1.2 billion dollars in subsidies was necessary to avert a financial "crisis."