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Thousands take to streets calling for political reform in Jordan

Jamal Nasrallah / EPA

Thousands of people gather for a demonstration in Amman, Jordan, Friday.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Jordan’s capital Amman on Friday, calling for political reform.

Jordan's King Abdullah on Thursday dissolved the country's pro-government, rubber-stamp parliament, a constitutional move to pave the way for elections expected early next year.

The Islamic Action Front -- Jordan's wing of the Muslim Brotherhood -- and a coalition of tribal and other Islamist groups are pressing the monarch to speed up what they consider to be the slow pace of reform.

A conservative government led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Tarawneh passed an electoral law last July that has angered the country's main Islamist opposition, prompting it to say it will boycott upcoming elections unless its demands for wider representation are met.

Native Jordanians
The electoral law keeps intact a system that marginalizes the representation of Jordanians of Palestinian origin, on whom Islamists rely on for their support, in favor of native Jordanians who keep a tight grip on power and are the backbone of the powerful security forces.

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Demonstrators at Friday’s protests chanted, “The people want to reform the regime,” according to BBC News, which estimated the crowd at about 10,000.

Al-Jazeera said witnesses and journalists put the crowd at between 10,000 to 15,000. It reported that a demonstration in support of the king had been cancelled in case it led to an outbreak of unrest.

NBC's Jim Maceda answers questions about the Mideast protests

The royal decree dissolving parliament, which was carried by state media, did not mention a date for the election that will decide the makeup of the 120-member lower house of parliament.

King Abdullah has repeatedly said he wants elections to be held later this year or at the latest early next year.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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