Jordan opposition ups pressure on govt for reforms

Amman, Feb 26 (AFP) Jordan''s opposition movement todaythreatened to up the pressure on the government, which itaccuses of not taking reforms seriously, amid a debate overwhether the sweeping changes they demand could destabilise thecountry.

"The regime must understand that it must reform tosurvive, and that the longer it delays, the louder the callsfor change will become," Zaki Bani Rsheid, a member of theopposition Islamic Action Front (IAF) told AFP.

Yesterday several thousand people demonstrated in thecentre of the Jordanian capital in a "Day of Anger" to callfor political reforms -- in the largest demonstration in Ammansince protests began in January.

Bani Rsheid, a member of the IAF''s executivecommittee, warned the government of the "repercussions ofunderestimating the seriousness of the political situation."The reforms demanded by the IAF -- Jordan''s largestopposition party -- are similar to those sought by leftistparties, Jordan''s tribal groupings, students and militaryveterans.

All of them are demanding constitutional reforms and acrackdown against corruption. The Islamists also want theprime minister to be elected rather than appointed by themonarch.

Leftists seek the scrapping of amendments to the 1952constitution, which was promulgated by King Abdullah II''sgrandfather King Talal.

The document already has been amended 29 times, givinggreater power to the monarch and weakening the legislature,experts say.

"We will raise our voices until the government takesreforms seriously," Bani Rsheid said.

The IAF and the Muslim Brotherhood were to meetSaturday night to "consider what steps to take", he said.

"The government has one month to implement reforms, inwhich time protests and demonstrations will continue," Rsheidsaid.

"We no longer trust the government''s promises, whichare obviously made only to buy time and calm things downwithout actually doing anything," he added. (AFP)

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