Jordan's king blocks unpopular fuel price hike

AMMAN - Jordan's King Abdullah has ordered the government to freeze a hike in the price of the low-grade fuel used by the poor in the aid-dependent kingdom, which is struggling to absorb refugees from neighboring Syria.
The price hike, which sparked several scattered street protests by the government's tribal and Islamist opponents, was the second this year under IMF-guided measures to cut subsidies and ease budget strains.
Palace officials said on Monday the king had asked Prime Minister Fayez al-Tarawneh's government to freeze the planned 10 percent rise in the price of lower-grade gasoline.
On Sunday, 89 of the 120 deputies in the country's lower house of parliament signed a petition urging the king to dismiss Tarawneh over the move, which took effect on Saturday.
The government, mindful of public fury that exploded into street clashes in the depressed south of the country after two price hikes in 1989 and 1996, has long been reluctant to raise fuel prices.
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