The half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah has said he has been placed under house arrest, claiming he was being punished for taking part in meetings in which the king had been criticised.
In a video leaked to several broadcasters, Prince Hamza bin Al-Hussein said he was visited early on Saturday by the country’s military chief and told “I was not allowed to go out, to communicate with people or to meet with them”.
He said his security detail was removed, and his phone and internet service had been cut.
He accused Jordan’s “ruling system” of incompetence and corruption, saying it had decided “that its personal interests, that its financial interests, that its corruption is more important than the lives and dignity and futures of the 10 million people that live here”.
“I’m not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organisation or foreign-backed group, as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out,” he added.
“There are members of this family who still love this country, who care for (its people) and will put them above all else.”
But Jordan’s top military official has denied that Prince Hamza had been arrested as part of an alleged coup attempt against the monarch.
However, Major General Yousef Huneiti did say that Prince Hamza was asked to stop “movements and activities that are used to target” the security and stability of Jordan.
In a statement posted by Jordan’s state news agency, it was said that Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, another member of the royal family, and Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, a former confidant of King Abdullah II, had been arrested.
Prince Hamza was a former crown prince of Jordan, but was removed as heir to the throne by King Abdullah in 2004 in what was seen as a consolidation of power.
The tradition of the ruling Hashemite dynasty under the 1952 constitution gives the crown to the eldest son, but the monarch retains the option of naming a brother to be next in line.
The pair share a father in the late King Hussein, but have different mothers.
Prince Hamza’s mother, Queen Noor, said in a tweet:”Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe.”
Mr Awadallah previously served as a finance minister and chief of the royal court, before he resigned in 2008.
He has also served as an adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Any political turbulence in Jordan will be of concern to its allies in the West, with the country having been seen as a beacon of stability in the Middle East.
The US state department has already offered the king, who has cultivated close relations with Washington and been a key ally in the war against Islamic State, its “full support”.
King Abdullah has ruled Jordan – which borders Israel, the Palestinian territories, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia – since the 1999 death of of his father, King Hussein, who ruled the country for close to half a century.
Jordan’s economy has been been battered by the pandemic, which has hit hard its population of 10 million people and more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.
Jordan is also home to more than two million Palestinian refugees, most of whom have Jordanian citizenship.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Jordanian intelligence agency has played a bigger part in public life. This change has been condemned by civil rights groups.
Riot police last month broke up a protest in the city of Amman, and other regions that were marking the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring.