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    Bahrain Ratifies Changes to Constitution

    Bahrain's King Hamed bin Isa Al Khalifa (file photo)
    Bahrain's King Hamed bin Isa Al Khalifa (file photo)

    Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Thursday approved changes to the country's constitution aimed at ending a nearly 15-month-old popular revolt in the Gulf state.

    The amendments include giving parliament more powers to question and remove government ministers.

    During a ceremony in Manama, King Hamad said that "the door of dialogue is open and national accord is the goal of all dialogue."  He expressed hope that all forces and groups will assess their actions and join the process of progress and reforms in this important stage.

    But the main opposition party, al-Wefaq, denounced the amendments as inadequate, saying they fall short of demands of protesters from the country's Shi'ite majority, which demands a greater political voice in Bahrain's affairs.

    Shi'ites account for about 70 percent of Bahrain's population of just over 500,000 people, but claim they face widespread discrimination and lack opportunities granted to the Sunni minority.  Some want Sunni rulers to give up their monopoly on power, while others want the ruling al Khalifa family to be ousted completely.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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    Comments
         
    by: hussein abdullah
    May 04, 2012 5:23 AM
    The constitutional amendments are considered another major step towards reform in the Kingdom. HM the king has proven that there is room for a better system in Bahrain, we have once again created history by amending the constitution based on the calls of the people of Bahrain. We hope that these amendments get acknowledged by the opposition and the unrest comes to an end while everyone joins the leadership in a serious dialogue without any conditions.

    by: Jan Ryan
    May 04, 2012 3:50 AM
    These changes won't change the fact that the King still has the final word. This is a dictatorship - and not a benign one. I worked for this government. They are a small, closed group mainly from the one family. They are elitist and priveleged. They have no idea what good government means. They are like naughty children and there is no-one putting them in the corner to teach them a lesson.

    by: Ahmed
    May 03, 2012 8:22 PM
    The most important of reforms include:

    • Parliamentary power to reject four-year plans presented by the Cabinet.
    • Elected MPs right to take a vote of no confidence against the PM
    • The king will have to consult the heads of the elected parliament before dissolving the legislature.
    • MPs will have increased powers to question Ministers, to remove these Ministers and to reject Government bills.

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