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Bahrain to end its state of emergency

The king of Bahrain said on Sunday that the state of emergency he imposed in mid-March to quell anti-government protests on that strategic island will end June 1.

world Updated: May 10, 2011 00:06 IST

The king of Bahrain said on Sunday that the state of emergency he imposed in mid-March to quell anti-government protests on that strategic island will end June 1.

The announcement is a sign that Bahrain is seeking to assure banks and foreign governments that the chaos of recent months is over and that the kingdom, which depends heavily on financial business, is trying to return to normal.

It is also a sign that numerous arrests and rushed trials of opposition figures in military courts could be running their course. Some leading opposition figures went on trial as the announcement was being made.

Bahrain is a majority Shiite Muslim country run by a Sunni royal family and elite. The government cracked down hard on the protests, which the organisers said were inspired by Egypt and Tunisia but which the government accused of being aided by Iran, which is predominantly Shiite.

The day before declaring the three-month state of emergency, the king brought in about 2,000 troops from Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring countries.

Since then, hundreds of protesters and activists, including opposition leaders, have been arrested. But some saw the impending end to the emergency statute as a ruse. “This is a cosmetic step trying to show the international community that everything is back to normal when it is not,” Nabil Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “I don’t see it as a real initiative that will solve problems. Otherwise they would release political prisoners...”

The New York Times