Bahrain Ends Emergency Rule
Bahrain ended on Thursday the 78-day emergency rule imposed after riots rocked the tiny Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority island kingdom, Gulf News reports.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Roundabout, formely known as the Pearl Monument Roundabout, which was the epicenter of the protests launched on February 14 was deathly quiet. The roundabout will be replaced by a new road junction in the near future.
Initial attempts to clear the roundabout on February 17 resulted in casualties among protesters demanding constitutional reform when Bahrain's military launched its much criticized crackdown.
However, after Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa made a television appearance ordering the army back to their barracks and calling for a national dialogue, crowds returned to the roundabout, put up tents and a set up a large stage from where protest leaders escalated their anti-government stand.
Demonstrators later chose to take the protests to the vicinity of the Bahrain Financial Harbor.
Bahraini authorities called in units from the Peninsula Shield, the military arm of the GCC, and declared a state of 'national safety' — denoting emergency rule — for three months.
On May 8, Bahrain said it would end the 'state of national safety' on June 1, two weeks ahead of schedule, despite repeated pleas from lawmakers to extend it for at least three more months.
The decision was welcomed as an indication of a clear amelioration of the situation in the country.
After 78 days of emergency laws and with only hours before they were eventually lifted, Bahrainis Tuesday were eagerly waiting for their chance to start afresh.
Al Wefaq, Bahrain's largest political society, said in a statement that with the lifting of the emergency laws, it would continue arguing for a political solution to Bahrain's problems and would continue calling for a constitutional monarchy.
"We are looking for a civil state, and not a religious state, as some people have been claiming," it said.