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Bahrain Government Now Eager for Dialogue
February 24, 2011

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All options are on the table, according to the Bahrain government. The foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, has announced that the government will meet with opposition protesters in an attempt to defuse the situation before it becomes a crisis.

Thousands of people have gathered in the capital, Manama, to speak out against the authoritarian government led by King Hamad bin Isa, who is the latest in a 200-year-old line of dynastic rulers of the tiny Middle Eastern island nation. He and his cabinet, many of whom are his relatives, head the government. Even though Bahrainian citizens vote for members of parliament, that group is not really a governing body because it largely takes its cues from the king.

One of the key demands of the protesters is a constitutional monarchy. They have gathered primarily in Manama but also elsewhere in the country for nearly two weeks. The initial response from the government was a crackdown, and several people died in the resulting violence. However, the government has since allowed the protesters to speak out peacefully.

Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the opposition group Haq, is now free to return to the country. Mushaimaa has been under threat of arrest for plotting against the government, but the king has now said that Mushaimaa will not be arrested if he returns home.



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