Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bahrainis hold anti-government protest

Bahrainis march during an anti-government demonstration in Manama on March 4, 2011

Source: Press TV

Tens of thousands of Bahraini protesters have gathered outside government headquarters in the capital, escalating pressure on the ruling family to accept political reforms.

An estimated 100,000 demonstrators poured into the capital's financial district after the Friday Prayers, staging the largest demonstration since anti-government protests erupted in the kingdom almost three weeks ago.

Columns of protesters that stretched for one kilometer blocked Manama's main highway. Protesters then marched towards Pearl Square, the epicenter of the movement demanding the government to step down.

The protest rally came one day after six Bahraini opposition groups, including the Shia al-Wefaq, laid out their conditions for entering talks with the Crown Prince.

The government "should announce that it has accepted four principles in the opening of the dialogue before going into the details," the groups' spokesman told reporters.

According to the spokesman, the conditions include the "abolition of the 2002 constitution" and the "election of a constitutional assembly for drafting a new basic law."

Bahrainis should also have the right to "elect a parliament with full legislative powers" and "to elect their government." The last condition is to "guarantee the outcomes of the dialogue are applied and respected."

Meanwhile, some opposition groups have refused dialogue, saying the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty which has ruled the country for almost two centuries must fall.

In a move to contain the mass protest, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has offered a series of concessions over the past week including releasing political prisoners, reshuffling the cabinet and reducing the monthly housing costs of citizens by 25 percent.

But the measures do not seem to have been enough for Bahrainis as thousands of anti-government protesters are still out demanding the government to step down

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