Jordan's Prime Minister Resigns Amid Mass Protests in Amman

Education Minister Omar al-Razzaz named successor ■ Prime Minister Hani Mulki submitted his resignation to King Abdullah in attempt to soothe widespread anger over economic policies that have sparked the largest protests in several years and dozens of arrests

Jordan's Prime Minister Hani Mulki at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, June 1, 2016
\ Muhammad Hamed/ REUTERS

Jordan's King Abdullah II on Monday accepted the resignation of his embattled prime minister and named a leading reformer in his place, hoping to soothe widespread anger over economic policies that have sparked the largest protests in several years and dozens of arrests. 

Omar al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, was named Mulki's successor and will form the new government. Razzaz was education minister in Mulki's government.

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of the capital Amman and main provincial towns again on Sunday, extending days of protests that have shaken Jordan, a staunch U.S. ally that has remained stable through years of turmoil in the region. 

>> Israel Warily Watches as Jordan Rocked by Biggest Protests in Years | Analysis <<

Police chief Major General Fadel al-Hamoud said security forces had detained 60 people for breaking the law during the protests and 42 security force members had been injured, but protests remained under control. 

"Rest assured, Jordan is a safe and secure country, and things are under control," said Major General Hussein Hawatmeh, head of the Gendarmerie security department, appearing along with Hamoud at a news conference. 

Jordanian protesters shout slogansoutside the Prime Minister's office in the capital Amman, June 4, 2018
Raad Adayleh/AP

Public anger has grown over government policies since a steep general sales tax hike earlier this year and the abolition of bread subsidies, both measures driven by the International Monetary Fund. 

Political sources earlier said Abdullah had summoned Mulki for an audience in the king's palace. 

In a sign the tax hikes could be shelved, the Petra news agency, citing the speaker of parliament, said lawmakers were on course to ask the king's permission to hold an exceptional session, with a majority demanding the changes be withdrawn. 

Mulki, a business-friendly politician, was appointed in May 2016 and given the responsibility of reviving a sluggish economy and business sentiment hit by regional turmoil. The tax increases have caused his popularity to plummet. 

The protests, the biggest in Jordan in years, widened on Saturday after Mulki refused to scrap a bill increasing personal and corporate taxes, saying it was up to parliament to decide. 

Demonstrators who converged near the Cabinet office said they would disband only if the government rescinded the tax bill it sent to parliament last month.