Palestinians protest austerity measures

Hundreds of Palestinians protest in the city of Nablus to call on Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to resign after he unveiled new taxes

Around 200 people marched in the West Bank city of Nablus on Saturday to protest against recently announced economic austerity measures, an AFP correspondent reported.

The demonstrators banged on pots as they marched, with some calling for prime minister Salam Fayyad to quit after he disclosed the measures, including tax hikes, earlier this month.

“We want a government that defends the people rather than robbing them of their food and money by raising taxes,” complained Khaled Mansur, one of the leaders of the leftist Palestinian People’s Party.

At the beginning of January, Fayyad announced a number of measures, that also included early retirement for public servants, in a bid to reduce what is forecast as a $1.1 billion (853 million euro) 2012 budget deficit.

Fayyad’s plans for spending cuts come as he himself faces an uncertain future at the head of the Ramallah-based government.

Representatives of the rival movements Fatah and Hamas are currently trying to form an interim government of independents — as called for by a reconciliation deal the sides signed last year.

Hamas has insisted that the caretaker government, which is supposed to pave the way for elections by May, not be headed by Fayyad, who has said he has no objection to stepping aside with the formation of a new government.

( / 21.01.2012)

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