Hundreds protest over Jordan fuel hike
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AMMAN, Nov 19 AFP
November 20 2012, 07:34AM
Hundreds of Jordanians have demonstrated outside the prime minister's offices in protest against fuel price hikes that have met with public outcry over the past week.
An AFP journalist said around 500 protesters on Monday marched two kilometres from the headquarters of Jordan's joint unions body in west Amman to the premier's building, chanting "Those raising fuel prices want to see the country burn," and "Beware the people's wrath".
"The people want the fall of the regime," some chanted.
Jordanian unions on Sunday staged a strike to protest against the fuel price rises, which could see the cost of household gas rise by 53 per cent.
There were also unprecedented protests sparked by the fuel issue on Friday that included calls for King Abdullah II to go.
Calling for the king's overthrow is punishable by imprisonment in Jordan, so the slogans were a major departure for a kingdom previously spared protests on the scale of other countries swept up in the Arab Spring.
Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur on Saturday defended the price hike, saying the decision was "unavoidable" given the country's $US5 billion ($A4.85 billion) budget deficit, and that the measures would save $US42 million ($A40.75 million) by the year's end.
The United Arab Emirates on Monday said it was considering ways in which to help Jordan counter the crisis.
"We, in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Cooperation Council states, are studying means of ending or minimising this deficit" in affordable fuel, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan told a joint news conference with his visiting Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.
Last December, the six Gulf states announced the setting up of a $US5 billion ($A4.85 billion) development fund for Jordan and Morocco, both candidate members of the GCC.
Initial protests in Jordan on Wednesday and Thursday against the announcement of the price rise descended into violence, with one person killed and 71 injured, police said.
Of 158 people arrested in connection with the unrest, 20 were subsequently released.
A judicial source on Monday told AFP the public prosecutor had "charged 101 suspects with incitement against the government, rioting and illegal gathering".
They added that among them were 13 minors who were indicted only on the second two charges.