Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki resigns over tax protests, state media says


Updated

June 05, 2018 00:08:26

Jordan’s embattled Prime Minister has submitted his resignation to King Abdullah II amid widening protests over a planned tax increase and other austerity measures, according to government-linked media.

Key points:

  • King Abdullah asked a former World Bank economist to form a new government
  • Security forces had detained 60 people for breaking the law during the protests
  • Public anger has grown since a steep general sales tax hike earlier this year

Hani Mulki’s reported resignation came in the wake of the largest anti-government protests in the pro-West country since 2011.

Thousands of demonstrators have filled the streets of the kingdom in recent days, marching on the prime minister’s office and demanding Mr Mulki’s departure.

Mr Mulki, who had served for two years, presided over an unpopular Government trying to implement economic reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get the country’s rising public debt under control.

Jordan’s economy has suffered a downturn in recent years, including rising unemployment, largely as a result of conflicts in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

Two government-linked websites, Hala Akhbar and Al-Rai, reported on Monday (local time) that Mr Mulki had offered his resignation. There was no immediate official announcement.

King Abdullah asked Omar al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, to form a new government, a ministerial source said.

Jordan, a staunch US ally that has a peace treaty with Israel, has remained stable through years of regional turmoil.

Police chief Major General Fadel al-Hamoud said security forces had detained 60 people for breaking the law during the protests and 42 security force members had been injured, but protests remained under control.

“Rest assured, Jordan is a safe and secure country, and things are under control,” said Major General Hussein Hawatmeh, head of the Gendarmerie security department, appearing along with Mr Hamoud at a news conference.

Public anger has grown over government policies since a steep general sales tax hike earlier this year and the abolition of bread subsidies, both measures driven by the IMF.

Political sources earlier said King Abdullah had summoned Mr Mulki for an audience in his palace.

In a sign the tax hikes could be shelved, the Petra news agency citing the speaker of parliament, said lawmakers were on course to ask the King’s permission to hold an exceptional session, with a majority demanding the changes be withdrawn.

The protests widened on Saturday after Mr Mulki refused to scrap a bill increasing personal and corporate taxes, saying it was up to parliament to decide.

Demonstrators who have converged near the Cabinet office have said they would disband only if the Government rescinded the tax bill it sent to Parliament last month.

Unions representing tens of thousands of employees in both the public and private sectors have also called for a general strike on Wednesday after their demands for the bill to be scrapped were rejected by the Government.

The Government said it needed more funds for public services and argued the tax changes reduced social disparities by placing a heavier burden on high earners.

Opponents said a tough IMF-imposed fiscal consolidation plan had worsened the plight of poorer Jordanians and squeezed the middle class.

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

Protesters have also criticised politicians for squandering public funds and corruption.

Reuters/AP

Topics:

world-politics,

government-and-politics,

jordan

First posted

June 04, 2018 23:33:34



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