Middle East

Clashes break out at Jordan anti-government protest

Anti-government protesters in Amman, Jordan - 24 March 2011
Image caption Students were joined by leftists and Islamists to demand political reforms

Supporters of Jordan's government have clashed with protesters demanding political reforms in the capital Amman.

Reports say supporters of the king threw stones at the hundreds of protesters camped in Gamal Abdel Nasser Square, injuring a number of them.

The protesters were demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit, reforms to parliament and for corrupt officials to stand trial.

King Abdullah appointed Mr Bakhit last month after large street protests.

Thursday's demonstration - which was organised through the social networking website Facebook by a group calling itself Youth of March 24 - saw student protesters joined by leftists and members of the Islamist opposition.

Some witnesses said the police stood by as a group of government supporters moved in to the square and began throwing stones. As many as 35 people were reported injured, most with head wounds.

Jordan's opposition has demanded electoral reforms that would see the prime minister directly elected and more powers granted to the parliament.

In a letter published in Jordanian newspapers on Wednesday, King Abdullah urged Prime Minister Bakhit to push through parliament reforms the monarch proposed in February, after the last prime minister was sacked.

At that time, Jordanians had taken to the streets in largely peaceful protests to demand on political reforms, high unemployment and rising prices.

Mr Bakhit is a retired army major-general who served as Jordan's prime minister from 2005 until his resignation in 2007.

Jordan is just one of the countries in the region where protests have been held to demand political changes after the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt were toppled in January and February.

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