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Professional associations rally as fuel protests continue

By Taylor Luck - Nov 20,2012 - Last updated at Nov 20,2012

AMMAN — Members of professional associations rallied in Amman on Monday as protests took place in other cities on the sixth day after the government decided to lift fuel subsidies.

In an afternoon rally, some 300 members of the professional associations protested against the decision, warning of a “popular revolt” if the measure is not reversed.

During the two-hour march, some participants renewed provocative calls for “regime change” chanting, “The people want to topple the regime” and “The people refuse a corrupt regime.”

The Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported that nine professional associations and their presidents withdrew from the rally in protest against some of the slogans.

But Petra only named the press, geologists, dentists, artists, nurses, contractors and auditors associations, quoting a statement they released as saying that the slogans raised were against what had been agreed on by the participants.

The dissenting associations cited the “surprise presence of outside parties that raised slogans we had not agreed to”, saying the march “no longer represented the professional associations”.

Professional Associations Council President Mahmoud Abu Ghaneimeh said the nine associations’ decision does not represent the council, Petra reported.

But he stressed that the slogans for “regime change” were raised by people who were not affiliated with the associations, stressing that the syndicates remain committed to seeking “regime reform”.

Security forces prevented the marchers from reaching the Prime Ministry in order to keep the Fourth Circle open to traffic, according to officials.

Meanwhile, hundreds took to the streets in the northern city of Irbid, 80km north of Amman, in an evening rally to protest against the measure, calling on Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour to step down over the crisis.

During the peaceful rally, Islamist, leftist and independent activists urged the government to reverse the decision, accusing officials of “stealing from the country at the expense of the poor”.

Another rally was held in Irbid on Monday, with participants calling for preserving national unity, protecting public property and condemning violence of all kinds, Petra reported.

In Salt, 35km northwest of the capital, the professional associations organised a protest against the government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies. Tens of association members and Salt residents said they were against vandalism, stressing their support to peaceful protests, Petra reported.

Also on Monday, popular movements in Ajloun, 70km northwest of Amman, gathered in the city centre to demonstrate against the government’s decision, according to Petra.

Meanwhile, in Karak, 140km south of the capital, members of popular movements and political parties took part in a demonstration, demanding that the government back down from their decision to lift fuel subsidies, Petra reported.

Following the announcement of the measure last week, some protests turned violent, leading to around 200 arrests, over 70 injuries and the death of one citizen.

In a press statement on Monday, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs announced that the violence caused around JD700,000 in damage to municipal properties alone.

Ensour has resisted calls to overturn last Tuesday’s measure, stressing that slashing JD800 million in annual subsidies was necessary to avert a nationwide “financial crisis”.

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