Bahrain’s General Federation for Trade Unions has called for the government to be dissolved a day after Bahrain’s king swore in five new Cabinet ministers.
The new appointments don’t reflect “the ambitions and popular voices” of Bahrainis, the federation said. A transitional government must be formed that will meet the “demands of the people” and bring about “real political change.”
King Hamad Bin Isa al Khalifa named the five new cabinet ministers, according to a government e-mailed statement released yesterday by Bell Pottinger, the PR firm advising the Bahraini government.
Seven people have been killed in mainly Shiite demonstrations. Thousands of demonstrators are camped in the central Manama Pearl Roundabout.
The unions had previously called a nationwide strike on 20 February to object to the government’s violent response to protests. The strike was called off the next day because the government pledged to respect the right to peaceful protests, according to an e-mailed statement.
Sayed Salman, the general secretary of the federation may call another general strike unless the government and opposition parties open an appropriate dialogue.
Meanwhile, the leader of a banned opposition party returned from exile and exhorted a crowd of tens of thousands of antigovernment protesters to continue demonstrating until they achieved a “successful revolution.”
“The dictator fell in Tunisia, the dictator fell in Egypt and the dictator should fall here,” announced Hassan Mushaima, a dissident who has long demanded fundamental changes.
February 25-27, 2011
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
The Bahraini government appears to be unable to satisfy the demands of the protesters. Furthermore, the messages it is communicating appear to be insufficient to address the situation, causing an overall increase of tensions within the ranks of the opposition. An apparent lack of leadership, though may not accurately represent the situation, appear to strengthen the demands of the opposition.
It is understood that the Crown Prince has assumed a wider role in governing and is in fact the executive decision maker, gradually replacing the waning role of the prime-minster, who is largely loathed by the protestors. The return of Hassan Mushaima to a massive welcome, has given the local opposition a hard-line rallying figure.
The overall assessment is therefore that the government appears to be slowly and ineffectively responding to the protestors’ demands, whilst the opposition is gaining strength, as well as increasing their demands.
Without a dramatic change in the way the government is dealing with the protests, the situation remains fragile and appears to head towards further complications, especially that the protests are now increasingly demanding a total end to the rule of the Al Khalifa family.
This will not only impact Bahrain, but will have a negative impact on Saudi Arabia’s neighbouring and oil-rich Eastern Province, who will be encouraged by the growing Shiite influence in Bahrain, and a likely increase in the role of Iran.
With the Shiites forming over two-thirds of the population, the regime appears to be under unprecedented risk.
The figure below shows the make-up of the Bahrain population