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Jordanian Prime Minister Resigns After Tax Increase Protests

Jordanian Prime Minister Resigns After Tax Increase Protests

Jordan's Prime Minister Hani Mulki resigned Monday after thousands protested in recent days against his government's plan to increase taxes, causing uncertainty in a country that is a vital US ally in the region. The Al-Rai newspaper reported that the Harvard-educated Razzaz would succeed Mulki in the post.

Jordan's prime minister refused to scrap an IMF-backed tax reform bill on Saturday that has sparked the largest protests in over five years against steep price hikes, saying it was up to parliament to decide its fate.

Some 3,000 people faced down a heavy security presence to gather near the prime minister's office in Amman until the early hours of Sunday morning, waving Jordanian flags and signs reading "we will not kneel".

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest in Amman, Jordan, June 2, 2018.

TRT World's Gavin Blackburn reports.

The government's resignation follows nationwide protests against the income tax draft law, which seeks to increase the number of income tax payers from 5 per cent to 10 per cent.

Out of 130 representatives, a majority of 78 representatives are opposed to the new tax law.

Fayez said the government should "balance economic challenges and pressures with the interests of different social sectors", but cautioned against violence and called on authorities to bring "troublemakers" to justice.

Prices have steadily risen in recent years in Jordan, a country of 9.5 million which is burdened by poverty and unemployment. The government has also raised prices for bread, electricity and fuel.

"We are not here because we want to be, we are here because we can no longer make ends meet", Mr Mohammed said.

Demonstrators tussled with security forces and some fainted, but others smoked water pipes and one sat on the pavement and played the Arabian lute, or oud.

Jordan also witnessed civil unrest and protests in the capital and some towns after previous IMF-driven moves cut subsidies and hike fuel prices.

Yet while the new government takes shape and prepares to respond to protesters' demands, analysts say it is the end of business as usual for Jordanian governments.

Lina Rsheidat, 35, a housewife with a red keffiyeh scarf around her neck, said the proposed law was "unjust" and would "harm the Jordanian people".

Amman, the capital, ranks as the most expensive city in the Arab world, and it has a higher cost of living than much wealthier cities, like Dubai, London and Washington, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Despite the protests, opposition circles have not called to oust the government or king, who's is seen as a stabilizing factor and a keeper of the kingdom's institutions.

Protests in Jordan against tax rises and austerity measures - the biggest demonstrations in years - continued for a third consecutive night.

Jordan's economy has struggled to grow in the past few years in the face of chronic deficits, as private foreign investment and aid has declined.

The national capital Amman has repeatedly urged the worldwide countries to provide extra funds to help the economy.

What would the new law mean?

Mulki said the International Monetary Fund had completed its latest mission to the country on Thursday and hoped the kingdom would conclude by mid-2019 most of the reforms needed to get the economy "back on track".

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