Jordanian demonstrators gather in protest against rising fuel costs at Jabal al-Hussein in Amman on November 14
Jordanian demonstrators gather in protest against rising fuel costs in Amman on November 14. Oil-rich Gulf states are mulling ways to help Jordan shore up its fuel supplies after sharp price increases sparked protests against the king, the United Arab Emirates foreign minister said on Monday. © Khalil Mazraawi - AFP/File
Jordanian demonstrators gather in protest against rising fuel costs at Jabal al-Hussein in Amman on November 14
AFP
Last updated: November 19, 2012

Gulf states mull aid for Jordan amid fuel protests

Hundreds of Jordanians demonstrated on Monday outside the prime minister's offices in protest against fuel price hikes that have met with public outcry over the past week, an AFP journalist said.

Around 500 protesters marched two kilometres (more than a mile) from the headquarters of Jordan's joint unions body in west Amman to the premier's building, chanting "Those raising fuel prices want to see the country burn," and "Beware the people's wrath."

"The people want the fall of the regime," some chanted.

Jordanian unions staged a strike on Sunday to protest against the fuel price rises, which could see the cost of household gas rise by 53 percent.

Friday also saw unprecedented protests sparked by the fuel issue that included calls for King Abdullah II to go.

Calling for the king's overthrow is punishable by imprisonment in Jordan, so the slogans were a major departure for a kingdom previously spared protests on the scale of other countries swept up in the Arab Spring.

Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur on Saturday defended the price hike, saying the decision was "unavoidable" given the country's $5-billion (3.9-billion-euro) budget deficit, and that the measures would save $42 million by the year's end.

The United Arab Emirates said on Monday it was mulling ways in which to help Jordan counter the crisis.

"We, in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Cooperation Council states, are studying means of ending or minimising this deficit" in affordable fuel, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan told a joint news conference with his visiting Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.

Last December, the six Gulf states announced the setting up of a five-billion-dollar development fund for Jordan and Morocco, both candidate members of the GCC.

Initial protests in Jordan on Wednesday and Thursday against the announcement of the price rise descended into violence, with one person killed and 71 injured, police said.

Of 158 people arrested in connection with the unrest, 20 were subsequently released.

A judicial source told AFP on Monday that the public prosecutor had "charged 101 suspects with incitement against the government, rioting and illegal gathering."

They added that among them were 13 minors who were indicted only on the second two charges.

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