Thousands of jubilant Bahrainis returned on Saturday to Manama’s Pearl Square, the focal point of bloody anti-regime demonstrations, after police and troops withdrew in what appeared to be a conciliatory move.
After the security forces had pulled out, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa ordered that they were to stay away from demonstrators.
Salman, who is deputy commander of armed forces, ordered “all security forces to immediately withdraw from assembly areas,” a statement carried by BNA state agency said.
He had asked the “crowds to leave” to start a “new phase of national action that would bring together all parties.”
The latest developments come as pressure grows on the pro-western Gulf kingdom to negotiate with the Shiite-led opposition, which has been demanding the current government resign before talks offered by the king can begin.