Bahrain Warns Groups Before End of Emergency Rule Tomorrow
By Glen Carey – May 31, 2011 11:40 AM ET
Bahrain signaled it won’t allow anti- government protests when the nationwide state of emergency ends tomorrow.
The Ministry of Justice warned against “any type of activities that could affect security or harm the national peace and safety,” in a statement carried by the official Bahrain News Agency.
Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, declared martial law in March, as his government sought to quell Shiite Muslim-led demonstrations calling for more democracy and civil rights after popular uprisings ousted leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. The ruling family also invited troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to help quell protests.
Mainly Shiite activists and youth movements are planning to hold rallies tomorrow in villages “against the government and troops in protest at violations of human rights,” Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said in an e-mailed statement.
Crude prices have jumped almost 21 percent since unrest in Bahrain began in mid-February. Crude oil for July delivery climbed $2.69, or 2.7 percent, to $103.28 a barrel at 9:34 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
King Hamad called for talks on reform in the Gulf Arab kingdom from July, the Bahrain News Agency said today, citing a speech by the monarch. The king wants a “dialogue of national consensus” and for talks to be held without preconditions, the new service reported.
Police have arrested activists and doctors since protesters were forced from their rallying point at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, the capital, on March 16. Security forces this month arrested Mattar Ibrahim Ali Mattar and Jawad Fairoz, members of al-Wefaq, the largest Shiite opposition party in the country.
Bahrain will hold elections on Sept. 24 to fill at least 18 vacant seats in parliament after al-Wefaq members resigned in February to protest the government’s crackdown on pro-democracy rallies. A second round of voting will take place on Oct. 1, the Bahrain News Agency reported, citing Justice Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa.
Shiites make up about 70 percent of Bahrain’s population of less than 1 million, and many retain cultural and family ties with Iran as well as with Shiites in neighboring Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
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