Jordan interior minister resigns as thousands break Covid rules after elections

Tawfiq Al Halalmeh was in charge when security broke down after parliamentary poll

Children pose as they search for wood in parliamentary candidates' posters after parliament elections results were announced in Amman, Jordan November 12, 2020. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
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Jordan's Interior Minister Tawfiq Al Halalmeh resigned on Thursday out of "moral responsibility" after people across the country defied coronavirus restrictions to gather and celebrate or violently protest against this week's election results.

Mr Al Halalmeh "submitted his resignation out of the concept of moral responsibility, and the resignation was sent to his majesty the king and it was accepted", Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh said.

Security officials said that rioting broke out over the past two days in parts of the kingdom after the results of parliamentary elections, with many incidents of people firing guns in the air. The poll was on Tuesday.

Mr Al Khasawneh said on Thursday that authorities would deal firmly with those who breached a total lockdown order to contain the rising number of coronavirus cases.

"We will not be lenient in enforcing the law regarding violations, and we will hold all those who commit them as accountable in accordance with the provisions of the law," Mr Al Khasawneh said after announcing Mr Al Halalmeh's resignation.

Security forces were stationed across Amman and major cities on Tuesday night to enforce a total curfew after a surge in coronavirus cases deepened pressures on the health system and an economy in sharp retreat.

The lockdown started before midnight on Tuesday, when the health ministry announced a record 91 deaths from the pandemic. The new daily toll brought the total to at least 1,386.

Officials had said that strict measures were needed to stop a huge increase in cases in the past few weeks to 121,000, but waited until the parliamentary elections on Tuesday to start the measure.

Initial election results unveiled this week revealed that Jordanians elected 100 new MPs to the 130-member assembly, the day after apathy in parliament and the electoral process led to a record low turnout across the country.