Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a "Third Intifada"?

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

  • Deadly strike hits Gaza market despite four-hour 'truce'

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with holdout creditors

    Read more

  • Liberia shuts all schools as Ebola virus spreads

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

Middle east

Bahraini king reshuffles cabinet as pressure mounts

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-02-27

Bowing to mounting pressure, Bahrain's king reshuffled his cabinet on Saturday as exiled opposition leader Hassan Mashaima returned to a hero's welcome and anti-government demonstrations in the capital continued for a 13th day.

AFP - Bahrain's king reshuffled his cabinet Saturday, under pressure as an exiled opposition leader returned to a hero's welcome and thousands of people protested in Manama to demand the Sunni rulers stand down.

"His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa today formally swore in new ministers covering five cabinet portfolios," the government said in a statement without elaborating.

The move came on the 13th day of protests calling for reforms in the country, as opposition leader Hassan Mashaima returned home from self-imposed exile in Britain.

Mashaima, who on Saturday night was greeted by thousands of cheering protesters and fireworks lighting the sky over Pearl Square, the epicentre of anti-regime demonstrations, called for unity in a speech.

"Today, we have to be one line, Sunnis, Shiites, secular, all the opposition groups against the regime," he said.

"We have to carry on the battle, and achieve our goals, and restore our dignity.

"There is no dialogue because we are used to hearing lies from the regime, and it broke its promises many times, so how can we trust it again?"

Mashaima offered "a message to the political societies: beware, don't fall into the same mistakes as before."

"This is the chance in front of the Bahraini people to be liberated and change history. We will not live as slaves -- we are masters and we are free people!"

The Shiite leader was among 25 men charged in October with forming an illegal organisation, engaging in and financing terrorism and spreading false and misleading information.

Mashaima was in Britain for medical treatment when the charges were pressed last year.

He had remained there until the group was granted royal pardon this week, only to be arrested in Lebanon over an outstanding Interpol arrest warrant. They freed him on Friday after confirmation of his pardon.

King Hamad's pardon came amid daily protests mainly by Bahrain's majority Shiite community, which complains of discrimination and is pushing for power to be transferred from the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty to an elected government.

Pearl Square has been transformed into a makeshift camp where protesters have kept daily vigil in hundreds of tents.

Thousands of protesters massed there on Saturday and then marched out along a major highway chanting "leave Hamad, leave Hamad," blocking traffic.

They marched up to the walled compound where the foreign ministry is located, stopping outside to chant "Down, down Hamad!"

Then the massive, flag-waving crowd proceeded up the street, which is flanked by towering buildings housing banks, chanting "The people want to topple the regime!"

The demonstration eventually wound its way back to Pearl Square, ending where it began.

Official Bahraini opposition groups have stopped short of demanding outright regime change, instead calling for major reforms, including an elected prime minister and the creation of a "real" constitutional monarchy.

Seven people have been killed by security forces since the beginning of the protests against the al-Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled for some 200 years.

Opposition MPs said on Saturday they were still awaiting details on a proposed dialogue with the government before agreeing to the talks, which the king has charged Crown Prince Salman with opening.

"Until now the government did not give any (specific) initiative for political reform," said Mattar Mattar, one of 18 Shiite MPs who withdrew from parliament in protest at the killing of demonstrators last week.

"Our target was declared very clearly: we want an elected government, and we want the people to write their constitution themselves through an elected council," Mattar, a member of the Al-Wefaq opposition bloc, told AFP.

Ali al-Aswad, another Al-Wefaq MP, added: "One of the most important preconditions... is that the government needs to resign first."

However, Saturday's cabinet reshuffle fell far short of that demand, and many of the appointees had held other cabinet posts.

Majid al-Alawi, formerly labour minister, was appointed to the housing portfolio, while Abdul Hussein Mirza, who was oil and gas minister, was appointed minister of energy, the statement said.

Nizar al-Baharna, the former minister of state for foreign affairs, was appointed health minister, and Jamil Humaidan, who was undersecretary in the ministry of labour, was appointed minister.

Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, who was the chief operations officer of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, was named minister of cabinet affairs.
 

Date created : 2011-02-27

  • BAHRAIN

    Bahrain releases political prisoners amid pressure from protesters

    Read more

  • BAHRAIN

    Tens of thousands pour into Pearl Square for largest protest yet

    Read more

  • FORMULA ONE

    Unrest forces cancellation of Bahraini opening Grand Prix

    Read more

COMMENT(S)