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DUBAI: Bahrain’s King H M Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said at the opening of parliament yesterday that the government was open to dialogue with the opposition and also urged the body to criminalise “violence.”
“The door to talks remains open to everybody,” he said in a speech to MPs, while also warning the opposition against resorting to violence for political aims.
“Demands cannot be met through the use of force and violence but through dialogue and national understanding,” he said of near daily anti-government protests.
“We reject a grave escalation on the streets,” the king stressed, regretting that “democracy is being exploited so demands can be met through the use of violence and terrorism.”
He asked both chambers of parliament to consider “promulgating the necessary legislation to criminalise everything that harms our unity and the security of the population.”
Al Wefaq chief
DUBAI: Bahrain police yesterday questioned cleric Sheikh Ali Salman, who heads the largest Shia opposition formation Al Wefaq, over remarks related to “sectarian and security” matters, the authorities said.
Criminal investigation police questioned him in the presence of two lawyers over statements he made during a visit to Egypt earlier this month, according to a statement carried by the BNA state news agency.
Salman admitted referring to a “revolution in Bahrain” but said he “did not mean toppling the regime, while he meant demanding freedom, democracy, equality and respect for human rights,” BNA said.
The cleric also said that Wefaq “rejects violence from all sides, whether from the public or from the government,” and denied harming relations between Bahrain and Egypt.
Jailed medics go
on hunger strike
DUBAI: Five medics jailed in connection with last year’s anti-regime protests in Bahrain went on hunger strike yesterday, urging international rights groups to campaign for their release, lawyers said.
The Shia medics, who have been in prison since October 1 after the kingdom’s highest court upheld their prison sentences, called their action “The Lost Justice,” and have stopped taking food and medicine, the lawyers said. A sixth medic has been released because of time already served.
The medics reiterated accusations that the authorities used “harsh and systematic torture” during months of initial detention in the wake of a deadly crackdown on protests in March last year.
Cholera in Iraq region ‘under control’
BAGHDAD: Authorities in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region said yesterday that a fresh outbreak of cholera that left four people dead, the second in five years, has been brought under control.
A total of 272 confirmed cases were diagnosed, including 31 children, with the vast majority of the overall figure in Sulaimaniyah, one of three provinces that make up Iraqi Kurdistan.
“Measures are ongoing to treat the remaining cases, and we can say that this disease is now under control and the situation back to normal,” Kurdish regional health minister Raykot Hama Rashid said.