Protests in Jordan after fuel subsidies lifted

Protests have been held in several cities in Jordan against increases in fuel prices, following the lifting of government subsidies.

About 2000 demonstrators gathered in the centre of the capital, Amman.

The BBC reports household cooking gas will go up by just over 50%, diesel and kerosene by 33% and lower-grade gasoline by 15%.

Queues at petrol stations were reported in Amman as people tried to stock up on petrol before the price rises took effect at midnight on Tuesday.

Other cities where protests were reported included Salt, Irbid and Maan.

Ministers say the decision was necessary to tackle a budget deficit of 3.5 billion dinars ($US5 billion).

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told state TV that the price rises would be offset by government payments to low-income families.

"The financial situation in the country has been greatly affected by the Arab Spring. The economic situation is very precarious," he said.

King Abdullah has called early elections on 23 January, which the opposition has threatened to boycott.

Last month Jordan saw its biggest protest for several years for electoral reform. About 10,000 people took part in a protest in Amman called by the Islamic Action Front.

But the BBC reports Jordan has so far avoided the unrest and political upheaval that rocked much of the Arab world last year and led to changes of leadership in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia.

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