Bahrain opposition MPs submit resignation

Manama, Feb 27 (AFP) Eighteen Bahraini MPs fromAl-Wefaq Shiite opposition bloc officially submitted theirletter of resignation today to protest the killing ofanti-regime demonstrators, lawmakers said.

Seven people have been killed by security forces sinceanti-government demonstrations began in Bahrain on February14. The protests have continued unabated since.

"We are no longer affiliated with this council, whichdid not lift a finger in front of these massacres," read theletter signed by the 18 MPs, a copy of which was emailed toAFP.

The 18 MPs of Al-Wefaq, or the Islamic National AccordAssociation, make up the largest single bloc in theparliament, which had last week announced quitting theparliament.

"Officially, we submitted the resignation lettertoday," Khalil al-Marzouk, one of the 18 MPs, told AFP. Twoother Al-Wefaq MPs, Ali al-Aswad and Mattar Mattar confirmedthe announcement.

Mattar said that the head of parliament will nowcompile a report on the resignations and submit it toparliament, which must accept them or reject them.

If parliament accepts the resignations, after twomonths "there will be partial elections, just for theconstituencies which became empty," said Mattar.

If it does not accept the resignations, "theparliament continues its work with those numbers, with the 22(remaining) members."

Mattar added that parliament may not accept theresignations, but that "our view is that the parliament willlose its legitimacy after we resign."

The letter from the 18 MPs did not mention KingHamad''s reshuffle of the cabinet yesterday in a bid to placateanti-government protesters and lawmakers said the changes didnot meet their demands for reforms.

Mattar described the move as a "negative indicator forthe willingness in the government to go for political reform."

"The changes in the government were very minor, anddidn''t reach the ministers who were responsible for theblood," he said, in reference to seven people killed in theprotests.

And Aswad said that "one of the most importantpreconditions (for dialogue)... is that the government needsto resign first -- not to change a few ministers."

Official Bahraini opposition groups, led by Al-Wefaq,have stopped short of demanding outright regime change,instead calling for major reforms including an elected primeminister and the creation of a "real" constitutional monarchy.

However, protesters have been less equivocal in theirdemands.

"The people want to topple the regime!" thousands ofdemonstrators chanted yesterday as they marched throughdowntown Manama. (AFP)

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