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AMMAN - Around 4,000 Jordanians staged a protest march in Amman after weekly prayers on Friday against the

'People of Jordan will not

 

Jordan opposition calls for 'national salvation government', demands social justice, end to oppression.

 

 

country's economic policies, demanding "bread and freedom" and that the government resign.

"(Prime Minister Samir) Rifai, out, out! People of Jordan will not bow," protesters chanted as they marched from the Al-Hussein mosque in the city centre to the nearby Amman municipality building.

"Our demands are legitimate. We want bread and freedom."

Police handed out bottles of water and juice to the demonstrators, who carried banners reading, "We demand social justice and freedom", "No to oppression, yes to change" and, "We need a national salvation government."

Police spokesman Mohammad Khatib said about 4,000 people took part in the protest, organised by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm the Islamic Action Front.

Rifai on Thursday announced a $283 million (211 million euro) plan to raise salaries of government staff as well as the pensions of retired government employees and servicemen in the face of popular discontent.

The $28 a month raise came nine days after a $169 million plan to improve living conditions.

The current minimum wage is $211 a month.

But the Islamist opposition and others say the new measures are not enough as poverty levels are running at 25% in the desert kingdom, whose capital Amman is the most expensive city in the Arab world, according to several independent studies.

Official unemployment is about 14% in the country of six million people, 70% of them under the age of 30. But other estimates put the jobless figure at 30%.

A $1.5 billion deficit, equivalent to 5% of gross domestic product, is expected on this year's $8.8 billion budget.

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of the kingdom in a similar protest on Friday last week.

Tunisia's popular revolt, which has ousted the country's strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has inspired dissidents across the Arab world and sparked protests in countries including Algeria, Jordan and Egypt.

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