Hundreds of anti-government protesters have vowed to stage a sit-in in a main square in Amman, Jordan, until their demands for democratic reforms are satisfied.
The demonstrators are seeking the removal of the prime minister, Marouf al-Bakhit, eliminating the state intelligence apparatus, dissolving the docile parliament and significant changes to election laws, among other measures.
According to Al Jazeera, most of the protesters appear to be “university students or unemployed graduates unaffiliated with any political party,” many of whom belong to a group called the Jordanian Youth Movement.
Protesters also want the king to lose some of his powers, including the right to name a prime minister. In place, they want voters to be able to elect that position.
Some of the protesters carried placards which read a new Jordan, clean of corruption and corrupt officials.
They also chanted: Intelligence department, we want your hands off politics!
Ziad al-Khawaldeh, the group's spokesman, said protesters would will remain outdoors until the prime minister is ousted from power and instantly replaced with a liberal government that would quickly implement reforms.
Reportedly, two protesters were detained by police; although one has been released.
Bakhit, a former army general, is widely unpopular and considered ill-suited to implementing any reforms.
Recently, the king issued a rare rebuke to Bakhit for postponing political reforms. In a letter, the monarch wrote:“As of today, I will not accept any excuse for delaying the process of political and economic reforms.”
Bakhit has established a 53-member National Dialogue Committee designed to redraft the election and political parties laws.
Today is the dawning of the Jordanian revolution, al-Khawaldeh added.
We will not move an inch from here until our demands are met.
Another protester, Mohammed al-Qaisi, told Al Jazeera he wants a new parliament that reflects proportional representation to all Jordanians. At present, too much power is in the hands of tribesmen, one of the pillars of the king’s support.
Enough is enough, al-Qaisi said.
We don't want the king to go, but we want him to listen to us; We're fed up with al-Bakhit, with parliament and with Jordan being a police state ruled by the intelligence department.
Another protester, Haitham Yassin told Associated Press that he joined the protest because I want the king to know that I became a taxi driver because I couldn't find a job as an electronic engineer. My degree went to waste. Still, I can barely make ends meet now. I have three children and I can't meet all their needs because prices are constantly increasing, while my salary remains the same.
However, there was a counter-protest nearby where about 100 government loyalists carried portraits of the king and chanted: Our lives and souls, we sacrifice for you, King Abdullah!