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King of Jordan dismisses Prime Minister in midst of protests

King Abdullah II of Jordan has dismissed Prime Minister Hani Mulki’s over some of the biggest protests the country has seen in years.

People have been protesting for four days over International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms that have affected the poor. The government planned to raise taxes in the country, which in turn brought thousands of people onto the streets of Jordan’s capital, Amman, as well as other cities in Jordan.

Austerity measures imposed by the government have angered the people. Income tax was recently raised by 5%, in order to try and cut the countries £28bn debt.

Several thousand people took to the streets and blocked roads, burnt tires, and demanded the King replace the government. In the Shmeisani district in Amman, around 2000 people gathered despite the presence of hundreds of riot police.

King Abdullah called a crisis meeting on Saturday, on the fourth night of protests, and said that they must reach an acceptable platform that does not “burden people.”

After accepting Hani’s resignation, King Abdullah instead appointed Omar al-Razzaz, who is a former World Bank economist. Razzaz also served as the education minister of ex-Prime Minister Hanni’s government.

When appointing Omar al-Razzaz, King Abdullah asked the government to review the kingdom’s tax system and try and find a solution to the tax problem.

When accepting his resignation, King Abdullah spoke highly of Hani. He thanked him for his “bravery in taking difficult decisions that do not gain popularity.”

The incoming Prime Minister has opposed reforms which would negatively impact the poor. However, government officials have stressed that he will have to continue with some tough reforms in order to reduce the countries debt.

The country has accepted more than a million Syrian refugees in recent years. Their former donors, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have stopped giving aid to Jordan.

Some have celebrated the King’s attempt to bring change to the government; however, the head of the Professional Unions Association said a strike planned for later in the week would still go ahead unless the law to increase the income tax was withdrawn.

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