Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets yesterday to call for a boycott of forthcoming elections. The protest was seen as a direct challenge to King Abdullah II, who hopes that parliament-led reform will stave off an Arab Spring-style uprising.
The demonstration in Amman was the largest in nearly 22 months of weekly protests in Jordan and was aimed at showing that change could come from the streets, rather than through a legislature that critics claim is too closely linked to the monarchy.
The protest came a day after the King dissolved parliament half-way through its four-year ter, and called for new elections. But there seems little danger at present of seeing the mass upheavals that toppled regimes in Egypt and other Arab countries.
In a speech to about 7,000 protesters, Hammam Saeed, of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, called on fellow Islamists, leftists and members of other movements to boycott the elections.
"We will not reverse our boycott of the elections," Mr Saeed said. As police sealed off the area, protesters chanted: "Abdullah, listen well. We want freedom, not your royal favours."