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Bahrain opposition leader calls for calm

Posted by on March 5, 2011 0 Comment

Manama: A Bahraini Shi’ite opposition leader has called for Sunni-Shi’ite harmony as thousands of protesters marched in Manama, a day after residents of a town south of the capital reported sectarian clashes.

“I will consider any attack against anyone in this country as an attack against me,” Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the Islamic National Accord Association (INAA), the main Shi’ite political formation, told thousands of demonstrators marching on the King Faisal Corniche in Manama overnight.

Shi’ites should guarantee the safety of every Sunni family, and Sunnis should do the same for the Shi’ites, Salman said.

The demonstrators massed at the compound where the tiny Gulf kingdom’s foreign ministry is located and marched along the corniche toward Pearl Square.

The square, where demonstrators keep vigil in hundreds of tents, has become the epicentre of protests that began on February 14 against the Shi’ite-majority country’s Sunni dynasty, which has ruled for more than 200 years.

“The people want to topple the Government!” chanted the protesters, in a variation on their usual refrain: “The people want to topple the regime.”

Salman’s remarks came after residents of Hamad Town, south of Manama, said police had intervened to break up Sunn-Shi’ite clashes late on Thursday, the first such incident since protests began.

Local pro-government daily Al-Ayam said an assault on a young girl who was leaving school provoked the clashes.

Alerted by text messages, supporters from both sides gathered in the area and fought with sticks, before the police intervened with tear gas, said the daily, which reported that two were injured.

Residents said the Sunnis were naturalised Syrians.

On Thursday, six Bahraini opposition groups laid out their conditions for dialogue.

The Government “should announce that it has accepted four principles in the opening of the dialogue before going into the details”, the groups’ spokesman said.

The conditions include the “abolition of the 2002 constitution” and “the election of a constitutional assembly for drafting a new basic law” for the tiny Gulf kingdom, said the spokesman.

The people should also have the right to “elect a parliament with full legislative powers” and “to elect their government”.

And the last condition is to “guarantee the outcomes of the dialogue are applied and respected”.

The conditions have been set by six political groups, including the INAA, which insist on a “real” constitutional monarchy in Bahrain.Agencies

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