Moroccans latest to join West Asian protesters

Bahrain's opposition buoyed by its success in re-occupying the democracy-icon Pearl Roundabout, and pushing back the military into the barracks, has now set tough conditions for talks with the country's embattled monarchy.

The pro-democracy activists are now setting the resignation of the government and release of all political prisoners as pre-conditions for the commencement of talks. They have also demanded the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. However, confronted with violence which has led to at least six deaths, protesters are asking Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to step down.

Human rights activists want to know the status of 10 people who went missing last week.

After being violently evicted on Thursday from the Pearl Roundabout — their version of Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the Egyptian uprising — protesters in Bahrain managed to reoccupy the area after brief clashes on Saturday with the police.

Pushed on the defensive, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said during an address over state television: “I hope that we can join hands, work together and communicate with all political forces in the country. Join us to calm the situation so that we can call a day of mourning for our lost son.” Separately, he told CNN that the government was “terribly sorry and this is a terrible tragedy for our nation”.

The protests in Bahrain have attracted worldwide attention as the country is home to the American Navy's fifth fleet. It also borders Saudi Arabia's eastern province, which has large deposits of oil.

Elsewhere in West Asia, Moroccans for the first time demonstrated during the current wave of protests for constitutional change in the capital Rabat. “This is a peaceful protest to push for constitutional reform, restore dignity and end graft and the plundering of public funds,” Mustapha Muchtati of the Baraka (Enough) group, was quoted as saying. Without attacking the King, the protesters, numbering around 5000, demanded the exit of Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi.


In Yemen, protests continued for the eleventh successive day in capital Sana'a. Around 50 pro-government supporters failed to disrupt a march of around 3,000 people on Sunday. Demonstrations calling for the end of the regime led by President Ali Abdullah Saleh were also held in the cities of Ibb and Taiz, while tanks, in anticipation of unrest were out in the southern port city of Aden.

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