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Jordanians hit streets to protest against austerity tax rises

Hundreds flock to central Amman and other cities in protest over price rises on basic goods due to new sales tax
Hundreds of people joined the protests in Amman on Friday (Reuters)

Hundreds of Jordanians protested Friday across the kingdom against the government's decision to impose new taxes on a string of goods and services, calling on the cabinet to resign.

The government earlier this month imposed new sales taxes on internet and mobile use, bread, domestic fuel and petrol, cigarettes and fizzy drinks.

About 1,500 Jordanians took to the streets of central Amman after Friday prayers at the Husseini Mosque in a protest organised by the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.

The demonstrators marched from the mosque to the seat of the nearby municipality chanting slogans demanding the fall of the government and venting anger at the price rises.

"The people of Jordan are on fire, all because of the rise in prices," some chanted, AFP correspondents said.

"The government that raises prices must fall, the government that impoverishes people must go," was another rallying cry, as demonstrators held up signs that read: "Raising prices is playing with fire."

Protesters called for an end to steep price rises and tax increases (Reuters)

Similar protests were also staged in the northwestern city of Salt, as well as in the regions of Karak and Madaba, south of the capital.

The price rises come as Jordan faces a public debt of about $35bn and after Amman struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund to secure a $723m three-year credit line.

The loan, the IMF said in August, is aimed at supporting Jordan to push through with an economic and financial reform programme.

Jordan's economy has been rattled from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the country has taken hundreds of thousands of refugees from its neighbours over the years, stretching its meagre resources.

Growth has slumped and unemployment has jumped to 14 percent of the kingdom's population of 9.5 million, with the young the worst hit, according to government figures, while unofficial estimates put it as high as 30 percent.