Dubai: Bahraini police used tear gas and sound bombs to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters who took to the streets of Manama on Friday, according to witnesses. The protests came a day after Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group, Al Wefaq, warned of fresh protests across the kingdom unless a national dialogue with the regime leads to real reforms, namely, a constitutional monarchy.
“A peaceful revolution for reforms is our choice,” Al Wefaq chief Shaikh Ali Salman told a party congress late on Thursday in the village of Saar, near Manama, according to a statement received by AFP on Friday.
Witnesses said hundreds of people, responding to calls issued on social networks, took to the streets. Several protesters were arrested, witnesses said, adding that police used tear gas and sound bombs to disperse the demonstrators.
Clashes also broke out in Shiite villages near Manama, and young demonstrators hurled fire bombs at security forces, resident said.
“The people will continue to struggle for their demands no matter what the challenges, obstacles or the price to pay, in order to achieve their legitimate right” to see a constitutional monarchy in Bahrain, Salman said in the statement.
Salman dismissed the importance of the talks held so far, saying the sessions were merely a “preparation for” real dialogue with the government.
“The negotiations will begin when we broach our key demands, including an elected government,” he said, reiterating Al Wefaq’s position that the outcome of the talks must be submitted to a vote by referendum.
“We want to go from a political tribal system in which one family controls almost half of all ministerial posts to a system in which the people will be the source of power thanks to free elections.”
The opposition has repeatedly denounced the Sunni Al Khalifa monarchy, saying it “monopolises all powers”.
Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, an uncle of King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa, has been in office since 1971.