Manama: Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on Tuesday ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the incidents that led to the death of two protesters on Monday and Tuesday morning.
“The special committee will look into the causes that led to the regrettable incident,” the king said in a televised address in the afternoon. “The safety of the nation and our citizens is of paramount interest, and everybody should have their rights,” he said.
The committee will be headed by Jawad Al Arayyadh, the first Shiite deputy prime minister in Bahrain and a former minister.
“We will request the august legislative branch to look into this phenomenon and to suggest proposals needed to address it for the sake of the nation and citizens,” King Hamad said.
In his short address, the king said that Bahrain was a country of law and institutions and that it had parliament-endorsed regulations that organised rallies.
“Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the National Action Charter and the constitution and was regulated by the law that must be respected by all people,” he said.
King Hamad said that reforms, launched ten years ago when Bahraini men and women overwhelmingly backed the Charter, a political document that heralded constitutional and political amendments, would continue.
Earlier, Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest parliamentary bloc, said it was suspending its activities in the lower chamber.
The religious-political society attributed the decision to the death of two protesters during clashes with the police.
Al Wefaq, the only opposition society in the lower chamber, has 18 of the 40 seats and Khalil Marzouk, one of its most prominent figures, is the first deputy speaker, a position that has allowed him to chair several sessions since December when the parliament convened for the first time after the October 23 to 30 elections.
In 2006 – 2010 legislative term, when Al Wefaq made its debut in the lower chamber, the society suspended its activities for several weeks, but eventually re-attended the sessions.
The society on Tuesday did not say when it might lift the suspension or what events would make it reconsider its decision.
The two protesters who died were named as Ali Mshaima and Fadhel Al Matrook.
The interior ministry Tuesday said that Fadhel Salman Matrook’s death occurred during clashes between a police patrol and participants at Mshaima’s funeral.
The statement posted on the ministry’s Twitter site said that a probe has been launched and that several policemen have been injured in the clashes when protesters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails.
The police and protesters said that several of the people who sustained injuries during the clashes that broke out on Sunday evening were treated at the country’s largest hospital. Other people are also being treated at home, the protesters said.
Manama and Bahrain’s towns were quiet on Tuesday, a holiday for the public and private sector to mark the Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) birthday.
Most shops remained closed and people in the morning confined themselves to their homes. Malls, however, were open although the normal bustle was lacking.
Shopkeepers hope that business would pick up in late afternoon and on Wednesday when people from neighbouring Saudi Arabia would drive into Bahrain for the weekend.