King warns Jordan 'at crossroads' over economic protests

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Razzaz served as education minister in the outgoing Mulki government.

He called for political parties, unions and civil society groups to take part in the talks. Following this they divulged that general price inflation would be based on recommendations put out by the International Monetary Fund.

Jordan's King Abdullah II on Monday accepted the resignation of his embattled prime minister and reportedly tapped a leading reformer as a successor, hoping to quell the largest anti-government protests in recent years, which are also seen as a potential challenge to his two-decade-old rule.

Protesters chant slogans near the prime minister's office during a protest in Amman, Jordan, June 5, 2018.

Despite Mulki's resignation, daily street protests continued, with organizers saying they would not quit until the tax bill has been scrapped.

The king blamed the country's economic woes on regional instability, the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and a lack of worldwide support.

So far, Jordanian authorities have arrested 60 protesters for "breaking the law", Reuters reports, adding that the demonstrations have also injured 42 security force officers.

The country experienced protests to demand political reforms during the 2011 Arab uprisings, and has navigated years of instability at its borders, including wars in Iraq and Syria and conflict in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The official unemployment rate has risen above 18 percent, and it's believed to be double that among young Jordanians.

The monarch, who has the ultimate say on policy decisions, promised change, but gave no specifics on possible reforms.

Lawmakers were on course to ask the king's permission for an early exceptional session, with a majority demanding the withdrawal of the tax law, the speaker of parliament has said.

For almost a week, the capital and other cities have been hit by angry rallies against reforms backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that have brought repeated price hikes. His appointment nevertheless sends a message to foreign donors that Jordan will press ahead with reforms, though in a gradual way, they said. There was also unrest in 2012 when the International Monetary Fund told the government to lift gasoline prices.

The government says it needs more funds for public services and argues that the tax changes reduce social disparities by placing a heavier burden on high earners.

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.

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