Manama, March 15 (IANS) Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa Tuesday declared a state of emergency for three months following unending protests that threaten to topple the monarchy, Xinhua reported.
The move came a day after the troops from other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) entered Bahrain to help it restore order in the wake of violent clashes over the weekend.
The king said that the armed forces’ chief had been authorised to take all measures to “protect the safety of the country”.
The Bahrain Defence Force will be in charge of security starting from Tuesday for three months, state-run TV said.
Bahrain has been rocked by an uprising by large sections of the Shia community which constitutes the majority population. Shias allege they are discriminated by the ruling Sunni minority.
The GCC is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The foreign troops are said to be mainly from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Saudi-led forces are expected to protect strategic facilities such as oil, electricity and water installations and financial and banking facilities.
On Sunday, Shia demonstrators clashed with security forces and government supporters on the campus of the Bahrain University.
It was one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month.
Protesters Monday continued to demand the resignation of the entire cabinet, which they want to be replaced by individuals elected by citizens.
Hundreds of protesters also held a sit-in at Pearl Square in Manama, the focal point of the demonstrations that started Feb 14.
Saudi Arabia and other GCC members fear that political concessions by Bahrain’s monarchy may spark off similar protests in their own countries.