Bahrain eases evening curfew along major highway in Manama

March 28, 2011

Bahrain on Sunday eased by one hour the curfew it imposed earlier this month along a vital highway in Manama and the education ministry said that middle schools would reopen on Monday.

A communiqué by the army said that the “exclusion zone timing will henceforth be from 11pm until 4am until further notice”.

The exclusion zone extends from the Saif Flyover at the entrance of the capital until the traffic light before the Shaikh Eisa Bin Salman Al Khalifa Bridge leading to Muharraq, the second largest city in the archipelago.

The decision is based on an improved security situation in the country where protests were launched on February 14, but reached an impasse four weeks later when the King Faisal Highway was blocked, schools shut, ministries briefly put under siege and a call for dialogue was shunned completely.

The call was issued by Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa as a way out of the looming crisis gripping the country.

However, the opposition said that they would sit at the negotiations table only if specific preconditions were met, including the resignation of the prime minister and the adoption of a full constitutional monarchy. Hardliners pushed for the abolition of the monarchy and establishing an Islamic republic.

Following the imposition of the state of national safety, emergency laws, the evacuation of the Pearl Roundabout and the King Faisal Highway which had been under the control of the protesters and the arrest of some leaders, security became the top priority and the national dialogue was put on a backburner.

Now, Al Wefaq, the largest political society has been pushing for holding the talks as a political solution to the current situation and wants to have them under the auspices of the Emir of Kuwait.

According to unconfirmed reports, Al Wefaq said that it welcomed a Kuwaiti mediation even though Kuwaiti parliament speaker Jassem Al Khorafi said that the Emir would mediate only if the opposition dropped its preconditions and remained with the red lines set by Kuwait.

Safety for expatriates

In Manama, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, the foreign minister, allayed the concerns of Indian, Pakistani and Filipino communities and pledged that Bahrain would ensure their safety.

The minister told the communities in a three-hour tour that Bahrain was returning to normalcy and thanked them for their support to the kingdom during the time of crisis.

“This is not your second home but it is your home. You have lived here for ages, and served this country. It is our duty to provide security and to protect you,” he was quoted as saying. “Bahrain has passed through a difficult time. But history has shown that ours is a resilient country. We have witnessed difficulties even in the past. Similarly, we will overcome this, and work together to rebuild the country.”

The minister deplored the attacks targeting several expatriates.

“It is heartbreaking to see the expat community living in fear, sometimes even being targeted. We will not accept this… We are in this together and will rebuild our home, which is Bahrain, together. Our destiny, our outlook and our future are connected to Bahrain. We will stick to the path of dialogue and evolution.

“The unrest will not deter us from marching ahead on the path to modernity and openness… We grew up together, our fathers and ancestors worked side by side in this country, and our sons will work together in building this nation and taking it into the future,” Shaikh Khalid said.

Schools reopen

The education ministry said that middle school students would resume classes on Monday under a plan to re-open all schools gradually.

Last week, elementary schools were allowed to open and according to ministry officials, the attendance level reached 90 per cent.

“We are confident that all schools would operate normally within a couple of days,” Nasser Al Shaikh, the ministry assistant undersecretary, told Bahrain Television.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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