Amman (Jordan): Hundreds of Jordanians
calling for reforms demonstrated peacefully on Friday, rejecting
the beginning of a national dialogue as insufficient. It was
the 11th straight week of Friday protests.
The first meeting of the dialogue committee is set to
start work tomorrow on reforms in Jordan`s regime, in which
the king has the final say on important issues, though the
parliament is an elected body.
The demonstrators say the parliament was chosen
through a distorted map of election districts favouring the
backers of King Abdullah II, and it must be replaced.
The king has given the 53-member committee three
months to draft new laws for parliamentary elections and
political parties. While these are key demands for the
protesters, some opposition figures have refused to
participate, saying the government appointed people without
consulting them, and some political groups were not
The committee`s chairman, Taher Masri, who also heads
Jordan`s Senate, has promised a national dialogue that "leads
to better democratic life" in Jordan, but the protesters said
they were not convinced.
"I would call the national dialogue stillborn," said
Sabri Akroush, an independent activist.
About 1,500 demonstrators from Islamic Action Front,
the country`s largest opposition party, joined leftists and
independents marching past the al-Husseini mosque in Amman`s
downtown market district after Muslim prayers today.
Waving Jordanian flags, they chanted, "No to the
National Dialogue Committee, dissolve the parliament."
The largely peaceful demonstrations inspired by
uprisings across the Middle East have not threatened the
monarchy but are calling for US-allied King Abdullah to
relinquish some of his sweeping powers.
The powerful Muslim Brotherhood opposition and their
leftist allies also demand the popular election of the prime
minister, now appointed by the king.