First Published: 2012-11-14

 

Jordanians demonstrate against fuel price hike

 

Trade and Industry Minister raises fuel prices, cooking gas by 53%, triggering nationwide protests.

 

Middle East Online

Some protests turned violent

AMMAN - Jordan announced on Tuesday it would raise fuel prices, including a 53 percent hike on cooking gas, sparking nationwide protests in which two policemen were lightly wounded and a courthouse torched, police and state television said.

"Trade and Industry Minister Hatem al-Halwani decided to adjust the price of fuel, raising the cost of household gas from 6.5 dinars to 10 dinars per cylinder," a 53 percent rise, state TV said.

"A litre of octane petrol (will rise) from 0.71 dinars to 0.80 dinars," it added.

The hike was to help reduce a massive government deficit, which Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur told the television is 3.5 billion dinars (around $5 billion) this year.

"The financial situation in the country has been greatly affected by the Arab Spring... The economic situation is very precarious," he said.

"The decision to re-examine fuel subsidies needed to be taken two years ago," Nsur added, saying the government would subsidise low-income families to help with the higher prices.

More than 2,000 people demonstrated in Amman against the price hike, chanting "Nsur out," and "long live the great people of Jordan," holding banners that read "revolution of the hungry," and "is this in our interest?"

In the northern city of Irbid, around 1,000 people protested, and police said two anti-riot policemen were shot and lightly wounded.

Several hundred people demonstrated elsewhere, including in Karak, where police said a courthouse was torched, and also in the other southern cities of Tafileh and Maan.

"This decision is a gamble that provokes the people and challenges them. It's the most dangerous decision in 10 years," Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, said.

"The people are already poor and crushed. If Jordan has elected governments that fight corruption, then we can raise prices."

Jordanians have been staging street protests to demand reform since last year, and more demonstrations are expected following the fuel price hike, which comes ahead of a January 23 general election, seen as key to introducing much-needed change.

The kingdom, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, is struggling to find alternatives to unstable Egyptian gas supplies, which normally cover 80 percent of the kingdom's power production.

Since 2011, the pipeline supplying gas from Egypt to both Israel and Jordan has been attacked 14 times.

With desert covering 92 percent of its territory, Jordan is one of the world's 10 driest countries and wants to use atomic energy to fire desalination plants to overcome its dire water shortage.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli

Israel approves plans for 1,000 settler homes in East Jerusalem