Jordan's king names new PM as protests continue

Jordan's king names new PM as protests continue

Jordan's king names new PM as protests continue

Jordan's King Abdullah has ordered the country's new prime minister to conduct a review of a controversial new tax bill, following days of protests.

Reports on Monday of Razzaz's impending appointment did not entirely quell the protests.

King Abdullah said gas supply cuts due to attacks on an Egyptian pipeline to Israel and Jordan had cost the kingdom some $5.6 billion (4.8 billion euros).

A draft law to raise income taxes and International Monetary Fund-driven reforms that have pushed up prices have sparked the country's largest protests in years. Meanwhile, King Abdullah the second has ordered his new prime minister, former education minister Omar al-Razzaz, to launch a national dialog over the planned reforms.

Some businesses in Amman were shut and hospital employees staged a protest, while hundreds of men and women converged outside the headquarters of the Professional Unions Association, although in smaller numbers than last week.

The country experienced protests to demand political reforms during the 2011 Arab uprisings, and has navigated years of instability at its borders, including wars in Iraq and Syria and conflict in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Thousands rallied in the Jordan's capital pushing nationwide protests into its fifth consecutive day.

The king retains final say on all policy issues, and presumably would also define the parameters of any economic and political reforms sought by Razzaz.

Amman's massive street protests showed no signs of stopping despite Mulki's resignation on Monday.

Some celebrated the change in leadership and said they would wait to see if the steps would stop price hikes which they said hit the poor. I want a government that cares about people and not just money and businesses.

Many demonstrators said they wanted more than Mulki's departure.

The government has said it needs funds for public services and argues the reforms will reduce social disparities by placing a heavier burden on high earners.

Late Monday, the king had warned Jordan was "at a crossroads", blaming the economic woes on regional instability, the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and a lack of global support. It suggested the government could shelve the new tax law and slow the pace of price rises. Mr Mulki also said it was up to parliament to decide whether to passed it or not.

Officials said he had been an opponent of reforms that hurt the poor.

"There's no going back", Jordanian accountant Leen Samer said.

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