Bahrain’s Reform Plan Draws Opposition Fire

Posted July 29th, 2011 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
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Government and opposition groups in Bahrain are weighing recommendations Friday from a controversial committee set up by the kingdom's Sunni rulers.

The national dialogue committee, boycotted by the main opposition group, was set up to investigate the kingdom's suppression of anti-government protests that left more than 30 people dead.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa Thursday approved the panel's recommendations which include giving more power to the lower house of parliament and making human rights improvements.

The committee also voiced support for an independent judiciary.

However, opposition groups slammed the recommendations on Friday saying they do not represent the “will of the people.” The country's main opposition group, al-Wefaq, had pulled out of the talks.

Bahrain launched the talks earlier this month after bringing in military units from neighboring Gulf states to assist in a crackdown on dissent led by the Shi'ite majority.

Some protesters urged the Sunni rulers to give the country's Shi'ites a greater role in the government, while others called for the ouster of the Sunni dynasty.

Bahrain has been criticized by human rights groups for its handling of hundreds of protesters that include detentions and trials.

Bahrain's Sunni rulers imposed martial law and crushed weeks of pro-democracy protests led mostly by majority Shi'ites in March. The state of emergency was lifted June 1.

At least 32 people were killed during the crackdown, hundreds were arrested – mostly Shi'ites – and 2,000 were dismissed or suspended from their jobs.