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Low key protests in Jordan pass off without incident

By Rima Maktabi, CNN
Activists protest against the naming of the new Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit on February 2, 2011 in Amman, Jordan.
Activists protest against the naming of the new Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit on February 2, 2011 in Amman, Jordan.
  • Protesters are demaning political reforms
  • Friday's demonstration in Amman was the smallest in weeks

Amman, Jordan (CNN) -- Several hundred protesters braved rain and cold temperatures here in the capital to protest against Jordan's new prime minister Friday. The demonstration, called by the Islamic Action Front, passed off without incident amid a low-profile police presence.

The protesters chanted "Alahu Akhbar" ("God is Great"), demanded political reforms and railed against government corruption. Most of them marched from Friday prayers at Salahuddin Mosque the short distance to the office of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, who was appointed by King Abdullah II a few days ago. They then moved on to the Egyptian embassy before dispersing.

It was the smallest Friday demonstration in Amman in several weeks. Other groups involved in previous protests decided not to join this week, leaving the Islamists and a small leftist party as the only groups involved.

Earlier this week, King Abdullah promised the new government would launch a national dialogue on political reform, tackle corruption and review Jordan's restrictive election law to involve a wider range of political opinion. The king met with Islamist leaders Thursday, among them the leadership of the Islamic Action Front and Muslim Brotherhood. Afterwards, the Islamists described the meeting as "clear and frank" in which they asked for political reform beginning with a new more democratic election law and a government chosen by Parliament rather than the king.

The Palace said the king had emphasized inclusive reforms that could overcome "external forces" who are resisting change for their own personal interests.

The general secretary of the Islamic Action Front, Hamza Mansour, told CNN Thursday that democracy in Jordan was marginalized and warned that when political and economical conditions worsen, social violence surfaces.

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