By ARAB NEWS
Published: Feb 15, 2011 23:48 Updated: Feb 16, 2011 01:18
MANAMA: Thousands of Bahrainis demonstrated against the government after a second protester died in clashes with police on Tuesday. The protests in a country, which saw deadly unrest in the 1990s, prompted Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone to voice concern about next month’s Grand Prix, which opens the new Formula One season.
Cyber activists outraged by the killing of the two protesters had called for the Manama demonstration on Facebook.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa expressed sorrow over the deaths on Monday and Tuesday morning and ordered the formation of a committee to investigate them.
King Hamad offered in a televised address on Tuesday afternoon his condolences to the families of the victims.
The special committee will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Jawwad Al-Arayyedh and will determine the reasons behind the regretful incidents, the king said in his speech broadcast by Bahrain Television.
King Hamad said that he would ask Parliament to look into the events and recommend the necessary legislation to address the issue in the interest of the homeland
“We will request the legislative body to look into this phenomenon and to suggest proposals required to address it for the interest of the nation and citizens,” King Hamad said.
Bahrain’s largest parliamentary bloc Al-Wefaq, which accuses the ruler of discriminating and neglecting a section, responded to the violence by suspending its participation in the lower house of Parliament following the death of the two protesters.
The bloc did not say when it would be ready to reverse the decision. Senior figures from Al-Wefaq bloc and the National Democratic Action Society attended the demonstration.
“This is your only and last chance,” read a banner carried by protesters who descended on Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, shortly after the funeral of one of the two demonstrators.
Protesters appeared to have turned a deaf ear to King Hamad’s address. Demonstrators want a “contractual constitution and a peaceful transfer of power,” said MP Mohammed Mezaal, of the opposition Islamic National Accord Association whose 18 MPs walked out of the 40-member Parliament,
The decision came because of “the deterioration in security and the negative and brutal way in which (authorities) dealt with the protesters, killing two of them,” said another of the bloc’s MPs, Khalil Al-Marzooq. Enraged mourners chanted anti-government slogans. Later they prayed together at the roundabout. Hundreds of young men and women waved Bahraini flag and carried placards calling for the release of political prisoners and constitutional reforms.
Riot police continued to be on standby but did not interfere in the protest. Many in the square chanted: “No Sunnis, no Shiites. We are all Bahrainis.”
It also appeared they were planning for the long haul as many of them brought blankets and carpets to brave the cold weather. Some groups carried in tents and sought generators to set up under a nearly 300-foot monument cradling a giant white pearl-shaped ball that symbolizes the country’s heritage as a pearl diving center.
Fadel Salman Matrouk was shot dead in front of a hospital on Tuesday where mourners gathered for the funeral of Ali Msheymah who died of his wounds after police dispersed a protest in a village east of Manama on Monday, Marzooq said.
King Hamad said the reform process, which saw the restoration in 2002 of the Parliament dissolved in 1975, would continue. The opposition has long complained that the elected chamber’s legislative authority is shared with a new appointed upper house. “Reform is going ahead. It will not stop,” the king said.
Thousands attended Msheymah’s funeral in Diya.
The Formula One chief told London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that it was too early to consider the possibility of calling off next month’s Bahrain Grand Prix but said that he planned to contact Crown Prince Salman about the risk of protests.
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