Bahrain Parliamentary Group Calls for Martial Law, BNA Reports

A parliamentary bloc in Bahrain has called for the government to implement martial law after police fought with mainly Shiite pro-democracy demonstrators yesterday, the Bahrain News Agency reported.

The Independent Bloc appealed to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to “intervene and protect national security,” the Manama-based news service reported, without saying where it get the information. The bloc also urged a ban “on all illegitimate acts which may instigate violence and terror,” BNA said.

Bahrain police fought with pro-democracy demonstrators seeking to block access to the nation’s financial center. The clashes left 100 protesters and 14 officers injured, according to hospital and government officials.

Shiites, who comprise as much as 70 percent of Bahrain’s population, say they face discrimination over jobs and housing from the ruling Al Khalifa family, who are Sunnis, and their supporters. The calls for free elections, more housing and jobs echo movements that have swept the region in the past two months and unseated longtime rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa said yesterday he is committed to starting a dialogue with the opposition that would address demands including “a parliament with full authority,” a “government that represents the will of the people” and the creation of “fair voting districts.”

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