AMMAN — The Muslim Brotherhood called on Monday for a national conference to tackle the country’s growing political crisis, warning of a potential “national uprising” should the government fail to usher in democratic reforms.
At a press conference on Monday, Islamist leaders called on the government to reverse a decision to raise fuel subsidies and for the formation of a “national salvation government” to help the country overcome “a dangerous phase”.
During the conference, hosted by the Higher Council for Reform — a pairing of the Brotherhood and its political branch, the Islamic Action Front — the Islamist movement called for the holding of a “national conference” to address the country’s economic and political future.
“This decision affects all Jordanians and we need all political and social factions of society to come up with workable solutions to this crisis,” Hamzah Mansour, IAF secretary general, said during the press conference.
Against ‘regime change’
During the presser, the Islamist movement reiterated its rejection of recent calls for “regime change”, warning the government that an ongoing delay in political reforms and a lack of response has led to a rise in demands on the streets.
“We are against calls for regime change; we have and always will call for regime reform and democratic reforms,” Mansour said.
The Brotherhood denounced the violence that took place in some areas in Jordan over fuel subsidies, accusing the government of sparking the riots by “mishandling” the crisis
“For over two years and 75,000 demonstrations and sit-ins, we have not witnessed any violence or destruction or rioting,” Mansour said of the country’s protest movement.
“Within hours of the decision, we saw unprecedented destruction — the regime carries responsibility for this development.”
“Every day the slogans and demands on the streets are rising higher and yet the regime remains absent,” Mansour said.
“The people now face three choices: reform the regime, topple the regime or watch the regime become corrupt,” Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said.
“We support and always have supported regime reform,” Bani Rsheid added.
“But now the choice is in the hands of the regime and the people,” he said.
In its recommendations, the movement called on the government to push through constitutional amendments paving the way for elected governments in order to tackle the crisis.
“The only way to solve the crisis is to allow people to take part in creating economic policy,” Mansour said.
“The Jordanian people can only influence policies if they are placed as the source of authority in the country,” he noted.
Should the government fail to push through democratic reforms, the Islamist movement warned that officials may face a “popular uprising”.
“If the regime fails to act and act soon, we may be faced with a popular revolt,” Bani Rshied said.
“That is something no one in Jordan wants to see,” he stressed.
The Islamist movement also criticised Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour for refusing to turn back on the decision, claiming that recent statements re-asserting the government’s position have “provoked the street” and demonstrated “a lack of knowledge of the people’s demands”.
In a separate statement, the Islamist movement called for the immediate release of all protesters arrested during the riots.
Since the onset of the crisis, the streets have largely been absent of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood movement — Jordan’s largest political force — who officials have previously accused of “instigating” the violent protests.
Islamists contend that they have played little role in nationwide demonstrations, pointing out that several offices belonging to the IAF across the country have been targeted by rioters as well as government property.