Bahrain needs to reform quickly, says Clinton

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 20 (PTI) Bahrain should roll out animmediate process of political reform, US Secretary of StateHillary Clinton said today, while deploring the use of forceagainst peaceful protesters.

Clinton said violence against peaceful protesters is"absolutely unacceptable" and deplorable.

"We''ve been very clear from the beginning that we donot want to see any violence. We very much want to see thehuman rights of the people protected, including right toassemble, right to express themselves. We want to see reform,"Clinton told ABC news in an interview.

Responding to questions on the current situation inBahrain, which is witnessing pro-democracy protests againstthe King, the Secretary of State said the country shouldlaunch reforms as soon as possible.

"So Bahrain had started on some reform, and we want tosee them get back to that as quickly as possible," she said.

Clinton said the US holds every one to similarprincipals but would not dictate the outcomes.

"We cannot tell countries what they''re going to do.

We had, you know, no control over what happened in Egypt," shesaid.

"In general Americans are in favour of human rights,freedom, democracy. We know that, ultimately, the mostprogress that can be made on behalf of human beings anywhereis when those individuals are empowered, when they havegovernments that are responsive. That''s what we want to see,"she said.

However, she added that such a process of transitionfaces the risk of being "hijacked" by elements both outsideand inside any country.

"I mean, what a tragedy to see what happened in Iran.

There was a great deal of hope and pent-up feeling that thetime had come in 1979, and look at what Iran is doing today,"Clinton said.

She said a truly functioning democracy would always bea greater force for stability, and that the US wants to workfor ushering in such reforms in countries like Bahrain.

"We want to work with those forces within societiesthat are yearning for change to make sure that they have thesupport needed and, frankly, the technical assistance, thefinancial assistance to be able to make it through to what isa good outcome, what they''ve asked for in their online blogsand in their posters and in their interviews," she said.

"Navigating through what are difficult choices forsocieties that are doing that transition is something that theUnited States encourages, as we did after the fall of theBerlin Wall, and will continue to encourage," Clinton said.

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