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Jordan: Demonstrations for Egypt, against PM

Two separate demonstrations, held in Amman, Jordan, on Friday, February 4th, ended peacefully. This week saw King Abdullah II dismissing Prime Minister Samir Rifai, champion of economic liberalization, in favor of former Prime Minister Maarouf Bakhit. Bakhit is of Jordanian origin and from a military background. His appointment has been interpreted as a display of the King's desire to consolidate Jordan's loyalists and mollify those angry with rising food and energy costs. Bakhit's appointment was not, however, met without complaint, with Islamists in particular charging that Bakhit is not capable of carrying out political reform.

After Bakhit's appointment, the King further attempted to stave off Islamist criticism by meeting with Islamist opposition leaders. After these actions, two separate protests were held the afternoon of Friday, February 4th. The first was held downtown, the site of ongoing protests against (now former) PM Rifai. This week, the protests were against the appointment of new PM Bakhit and in solidarity with the Egyptian people.

At 12:30 pm Amman time, Mahmoud al-Hamawi reported the events of the protest minute-by-minute, tweeting a series of slogans being chanted and displayed at the downtown protest:

ما بدنا نغير حكومات … بدنا نغير سياسات Downtown , amman now AngryJordan #ReformJO

We don't want to change governments, we want to change politics

He continued for the next half hour, updating every couple of minutes with slogans both against the new prime minister and in solidarity with Egypt. Around 1 pm, Tololy tweeted that pro-regime demonstrators had appeared:

Ten people carrying king's pictures clash with protesters in #Amman #JO #ReformJO #ArabProtest

But just ten minutes later, she updated:

Police intervene to break up clash in #Amman but don't stop the protest #JO #ReformJO via @AmmanNet

Also at around 12:30, Samih Toukan tweeted vague information about a demonstration in front of the Prime Minister's Office in Amman:

Its raining in Amman but I can hear chants of people in demo in front of priministry not sure how big and what r they chanting #ReformJo

This protest started at the Prime Ministry before marching to the Egyptian Embassy, located a short distance away. By 1:30, Ali Abu-Nimah tweeted:

Estimate a couple thousand outside Egypt embassy in Amman despite heavy rain. Will post video later. #jan25

This number seems wildly inflated from other independent reports. Thoraya tweeted her disappointment with the protest:

#JO protest quite Islamic. Leader quite uncharismatic. Boring. Time to go home #NoJOReformhere

She added:

Protest in front of #Egypt embassy in #JO seems very staged & scripted by authorities to ensure ‘acceptable’ msg #JOReform #Fail #BS

Despite minor clashes at the downtown protest, both demonstrations ended peacefully, perhaps curtailed by rain throughout the capital.

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