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Protesters to rally for fuel subsidies

By Taylor Luck - Nov 08,2012 - Last updated at Nov 08,2012

AMMAN — Activists plan to take to the streets in six of the country’s 12 governorates on Friday to urge the government to maintain fuel and food subsidies they claim have become citizens’ “lifelines”, according to organisers.

In a “Friday of protection”, leftist and independent activists are to protest against the lifting of fuel and energy subsidies, the cost of which officials say has ballooned to over JD2.2 billion.

In a series of rallies organised by grassroots popular movements, activists in Amman, Irbid, Karak, Tafileh, Madaba and Maan will voice their objection to “rising prices”.

Friday’s protests follow recent statements by officials that they are considering “completely liberalising” fuel prices in order to tackle a budget deficit that is expected to reach JD2 billion by the end of the year.

According to officials, the government continues to subsidise 50 per cent of gas cylinder costs, 25 per cent of diesel and 15 per cent of 90-octane gas which has pushed public debt to over 72 per cent of the gross domestic product.

In light of the potential move to lift subsidies, the government is considering providing direct financial assistance to citizens in order to soften the blow of rising fuel prices.

Also on Friday, Jerash residents plan to rally for the release of Samer Ayasrah, who was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly insulting the Royal family during a protest last week in the city, 48km north of Amman.

Activists say they are prepared to hold an open-ended sit-in in Jerash if Ayasrah is not released “immediately”.

Friday’s protests are expected to be held without the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood, marking the political movement’s second straight absence from weekly protests. 

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