La Tahzan Wa La Khauf

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Bahrain Main Opposition Rejects Dialogue Offer: TV

MANAMA, Feb 19 (Bernama) -- Bahrain's main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq rejected an offer of dialogue floated by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa with all parties to end unrest and protests that swept the tiny Gulf nation and left six people dead, Xinhua news agency reported, citing Dubai- based Al-Arabiya TV report Saturday.

The King has issued a royal decree in which he tasked Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa to lead the dialogue with all parties.

Al-Wefaq, which holds 18 seats in the 40-member parliament, conditioned military tanks to be withdrawn from the capital Manama's Pearl Square.

In a knee jerk to the use of force by police to end protests, Al-Wefaq has suspended its participation in Bahrain's parliament.

Bahrain, home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet, is ruled by the Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa family where the majority Shiite population says they are facing discrimination in jobs and other services.

The kingdom denies such claims.

Bahrain with a population of some 738,000, is the only Gulf nation along with Kuwait with an elected parliament, but laws must be approved by the king-appointed Shura Council, the upper chamber of Bahrain's parliament.



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