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February 22nd, 2011
01:15 PM ET

As protest march unfolds, Bahrain urges 'national dialogue'

CNN Wire Staff

Manama, Bahrain (CNN) - A crush of protesters covered the streets of Bahrain's capital Tuesday in an anti-regime protest.

Tens of thousands of people marched in the biggest anti-government rally since the public disturbances in the island nation erupted last week, and chants of "No Shia, No Sunni, only Bahraini" and "The regime must go" rang through the multitudes tramping across the center of Manama.

The turnout was led by ambulance workers involved in rescuing some of those injured in the assault by security forces last Thursday on the Pearl Roundabout, which has been the epicenter of the Shiite-dominated protest movement.

The rally - which comes after thousands of people attended a funeral for a protester slain last week - was a massive display of popular scorn toward an embattled government working to forge stability. But it unfolded amid major gestures by the kingdom.

King Hamad touted a "national dialogue" and urged Bahrainis "to engage in this new process" and "move away from polarization," a government statement said Tuesday.

The king has held meetings with opposition members, community leaders and businesspeople "from all sections of society" to pave the way for a formalized dialogue process.

"The national dialogue is aimed at bringing to everyone in Bahrain the opportunity to contribute to Bahrain's future path of reform," the statement said.

The kingdom also ordered the release of a number of prisoners and closed cases against several Shiite leaders accused of plotting against the kingdom, the country's state news agency reported Tuesday.

That cleared the way for Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party, the Haq Movement, to return to the country from London. His aides said he was expected in Bahrain later Tuesday.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Fareeda

    Bahrain has been very peaceful from the time Crown Prince pulled out the troops and the police from the streets. Yesterday there was a huge protest rally but very peaceful with no police in sight anywhere.Please show only the current events which have been very peaceful.Hoping the opposition will resolve their difference and approach the Crown Prince with their demands.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm |