Royal reprieve after Jordan price hikes spark protests

Thousands of Jordanians take to the streets of Amman on May 30, 2018 to protest against a new income tax draft law which was approved by the government recently and sent to parliament for endoresement. Arabic slogan on poster placard reads: "Strike/We are broke". (AFP)
Updated 02 June 2018
0

Royal reprieve after Jordan price hikes spark protests

  • Past price hikes have triggered riots in Jordan, a country of 9.5 million with few resources, burdened by poverty and unemployment.
  • Prices have steadily risen in Jordan over recent years as the cash-strapped government pushes reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II ordered the government on Friday to freeze new price hikes on fuel and electricity, officials said, after angry protests across the cash-strapped country.
Past price hikes have triggered riots in Jordan, a country of 9.5 million with few resources, burdened by poverty and unemployment.
Late Thursday and early Friday, hundreds of Jordanians demonstrated in Amman and other cities, calling for the “fall of the government” as they blocked roads with cars and blazing tires.
That came after the government decreed rises of up to 5.5 percent on fuels and a 19 percent hike in electricity prices, as well as laying out plans for a new income tax.
But early Friday, the king ordered the government to shelve hikes set to take effect that day as the country’s Muslim majority observe the holy month of Ramadan, official Petra news agency said.
Prices have steadily risen in Jordan over recent years as the cash-strapped government pushes reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund.
The country has a public debt of some $35 billion (30 billion euros), equivalent to 90 percent of its gross domestic product.
In 2016, it secured a $723-million three-year credit line from the IMF to support economic and financial reforms and was told it must drop subsidies and raise taxes to meet conditions for future loans.
Earlier this year, Jordan as much as doubled bread prices after dropping subsidies on the staple, as well as hiking value-added taxes on several goods including cigarettes.
The price of fuel has risen on five occasions since the beginning of the year, while electricity bills have shot up 55 percent since February.
According to official estimates, 18.5 percent of the population is unemployed, while 20 percent are on the brink of poverty.
More than 1,000 demonstrators rallied outside the prime minister’s office in central Amman late Thursday, chanting: “The people want the government to fall.”
In the northern cities of Irbid and Ajlun, some protesters cut off roads with burning tires, while in the Tabarbur suburb of Amman motorists blocked roads with their cars.


Alabama newspaper at center of KKK outrage gets black female editor

In this Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 photo, Goodloe Sutton, publisher of the Democrat-Reporter newspaper, speaks during an interview at the newspaper's office in Linden, Ala. (AP)
Updated 6 min 4 sec ago
0

Alabama newspaper at center of KKK outrage gets black female editor

  • Sutton and his wife, Jean, won acclaim in the 1990s for a series of articles in the Democrat-Reporter that detailed corruption in their local sheriff’s department

NEW YORK: A small town Alabama newspaper that drew condemnation for an editorial this month calling for the Ku Klux Klan to “ride again” has named an African-American woman as its new editor and publisher, the paper said in a statement.
Elecia R. Dexter on Friday took the reins of the weekly Democrat-Reporter in Linden, Alabama, from Goodloe Sutton, 79, the longtime owner of the paper who wrote the incendiary editorial that brought sharp rebukes from elected officials in the state and the public.
“Ms. Dexter is coming in at a pivotal time for the newspaper and you may have full confidence in her ability to handle these challenging times,” the statement said. It is unclear whether Sutton remains the owner of the paper.
Dexter has “strong roots and a rich history” in the area, and she will continue the paper’s long journalistic tradition while moving it in a new direction, according to the release.
Sutton, who has led the publication for the past 50 years, told the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper last week he had written the editorial which called for a return of the KKK and railed against Democrats.
The KKK was a white supremacist group that terrorized blacks in the US South and later targeted other minority groups, following the Civil War and the emancipation of African-American slaves.
“Good riddance Goodloe,” US Senator Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, tweeted in response to the news of Sutton stepping down. “His dangerous views do not represent Alabama or the small-town papers in Alabama that do great work every day.”
Sutton and his wife, Jean, won acclaim in the 1990s for a series of articles in the Democrat-Reporter that detailed corruption in their local sheriff’s department.
Jean Sutton died in 2003 from cancer, according to her obituary.
The circulation of the Democrat-Reporter, which is more than 100 years old and does not publish online, was about 3,000 in 2015, according to a report that year in the Montgomery-Advertiser.