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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Calls for end to Bahrain monarchy: Three Shia opposition groups join forces to demand an end to the kingdom

Three Shia opposition groups in Bahrain have announced their intent on toppling the Sunni monarchy and setting up a republic.

The declaration on Tuesday is likely to raise already inflamed tensions in the country, ahead of a planned march on the royal court.

Labelled the "Coalition for a Bahraini Republic," the group said in a statement that they "declare a tripartite coalition between the Wafa, Haq and Bahrain Freedom Movement that has chosen to fight for a complete downfall of the regime, and the establishment of a democratic republic in Bahrain".

"The coalition believes that the main demand of the popular revolution is the downfall of the current oppressive regime and the establishment of a democratic republic that expresses the desires of the people."

Anti-government protests in the Shia-majority, Sunni-ruled country entered the 23rd day on Tuesday, amid a wave of pro-democracy unrest that has gripped the region for weeks and toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.

Other Bahraini opposition groups, including the main Shia Wefaq group, have stopped short of demanding outright regime change, instead calling for major reforms including an elected parliament "with full legislative powers".

"We are different in the demands, but it doesn't mean we can't cooperate," Haq leader Hassan Mashaima told AFP news agency.

"I believe that ... there is not much difference between a constitutional monarchy like in Holland or in Britain, there is not much difference between that and a republic." (read more)