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Jordan Rally Calls for Democracy; Syrians Protest Amid Fighting

More than 20,000 supporters marched in the streets of the capital Amman demanding reform. Photographer: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP via Getty Images
More than 20,000 supporters marched in the streets of the capital Amman demanding reform. Photographer: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP via Getty Images

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Jordanian demonstrators called for a constitutional monarchy and an elected government a day after King Abdullah dissolved the lower house of Parliament and ordered new elections.

More than 20,000 supporters marched in the streets of the capital Amman demanding reform. Some held banners that read: “Down with all unelected governments” and “We prefer to die rather than live a humiliating life.”

The Islamic Action Front, which called for the protests, is urging a boycott of the parliamentary elections. The group, the largest opposition party and the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, wants the country’s prime minister to be chosen by lawmakers, instead of by the king as at present. It says half the chamber’s 150 seats should be chosen by proportional representation instead of the 27 stipulated by the election law.

There were protests in the kingdom, a U.S. ally, last year as part of the wave of Arab unrest. Last month, demonstrations against a fuel-price increased imposed to meet International Monetary Fund budget targets prompted the king to reverse course and cut prices.

“I think it is time for us to choose governments,” said Mahmoud Sabri, an engineer. He said he joined the demonstration “because I am fed up with the situation. We see our money and the country’s institutions being stolen and nothing is being done.”

In Syria, there were scattered anti-government rallies across the country as several provinces, including Aleppo, Hama and Homs, came under heavy shelling or aerial bombardment by troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. At least 12 people have been killed in Syria today, according to the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mohammad Tayseer in Amman at mtayseer@bloomberg.net; Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at dabunasr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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