By David Arnold
The capital of Jordan is bracing for what the Muslim Brotherhood says will be a massive demonstration Friday demanding far-reaching government reforms from King Abdullah II.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan’s largest opposition group, is calling its rally a “Save the Homeland” march and predicts it will attract more than 50,000 people in central Amman. The group is demanding reforms that would create a less centralized governing structure and ensure more opposition seats in parliament.
Organizers of a rival march by the Youth Coalition of Loyalty and Allegiance canceled their planned Friday rally, saying they wanted to avoid a confrontation and possible violence on Friday.
The planned march comes as King Abdullah dissolved parliament on Thursday, opening the way for early elections, probably late this year. The Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front, have vowed to boycott any parliamentary elections, saying the king needs to push through government reforms first.
“We are calling for real reforms that restore power to Jordanian people and curb the powers of those who have seized power and influence for decades,” Zaki Bani Rusheid, a Brotherhood leader, told the Reuters news agency.
Demonstrations have been taking place in Amman and other major cities and towns since the Arab Spring movement started early last year. Tensions have been rising in recent months as an already weak economy worsens.
The Brotherhood says the king’s earlier reforms were superficial and that he needs to change the constitution so the opposition can contest more seats in parliament.
Jordanian political experts say the next elections should be one of the most transparent in the history of the country. International election observers are expected to monitor the balloting.