Anti-government protesters demand regime change in Bahrain

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Dubai, Feb 16 (PTI) Thousands of anti-governmentprotesters demanding regime change continue to occupy mainsquare in Bahrain''s capital Manama for third day today asopposition groups pressed for a "real constitutional monarchyin which the people would be the main source of power."

Opposition Islamic National Accord Association chiefSheikh Ali Salman said, "the government should be elected bythe people who would have the right to hold it accountable."

Salman, whose bloc quit the parliament to protest thekilling of pro-democracy protesters by the police, called fora huge demonstration on Saturday in support of the protesterscamped in the capital''s Pearl Square, despite a rare apologyfrom the king over the deaths.

Meanwhile, thousands of angry protesters shoutingslogans "the people want to overthrow the regime" - which hasbecome popular across the Arab world following uprisings inTunisia and Egypt - today took part in the funeral of a mankilled in clashes with police.

The man, identified as Fadel Salman Matrouk, was shotdead in front of a hospital yesterday where mourners gatheredfor the funeral of Ali Msheymah who died of his wounds.

"The funeral procession left from the hospital andthere were no police in sight," Al Jazeera channel reported.

It said the police allowed the march to continue.

Anti-government protesters are continuing to occupyPearl Square in Manama after two days of violent clashes.

"They are well organised and say that they will makeManama''s Pearl Roundabout Bahrain''s version of Egypt''s TahrirSquare," said Al Jazeera.

Bahrain''s ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifayesterday made a rare television appearance in which heexpressed his condolences for "the deaths of two of our dearsons" and said a committee would investigate the killings.

"We will ask legislators to look into this issue andsuggest needed laws to resolve it," he said, adding thatpeaceful protests were legal.

But Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Centrefor Human rights, said the king''s speech "was too late".

"People were expecting him to come out and meet thedemands of the people - but he did not talk about how he willaddress the demands of the people.

"People don''t want only an investigation about the twokillings - they want change," he told Al Jazeera.

The US has expressed concern about the uprising in thetiny kingdom, calling on all sides to practice restraint.

"The United States is very concerned by recentviolence surrounding protests in Bahrain. We also call on allparties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence," saidState Department spokesman P J Crowley.

Bahrain, a small island kingdom in the Persian Gulf,hosts the US Fifth Fleet, the naval command in charge ofPersian Gulf.

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