Bahrain sacks ministers amid protests
Bahraini protesters take part in a rally in remembrance of the seven people who were killed in police crackdowns as they march towards Pearl Square in Manama on February 25, 2011. File photo, Getty Images
Bahrain's king sacks four cabinet ministers as tens of thousands of people pour into the streets of the capital, Manama, calling for an end to the monarchy.
King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa dismissed the ministers of cabinet affairs, housing, health and electricity in an attempt to pacify pro-democracy demonstrations, Xinhua reported on Saturday.
This is while anti-government protesters march to demand the resignation of King Hamad as well as constitutional reforms.
They are also calling for a free election and the release of political prisoners. The protesters, who have camped at Manama's Pearl Square for the 12th straight day, say they will keep rallying until their demands are met.
At least seven protesters were killed during clashes with security forces since the beginning of pro-democracy protests in Bahrain on February 14.
While Shias represent nearly 75 percent of the population of the small island country, the government is run mostly by Sunnis and the members of the royal family.
In an attempt to contain massive pro-democracy demonstrations, Bahraini authorities on Wednesday released 23 political prisoners after a pardon by King Hamad.
The king also pardoned Shia opposition leader Hassan Mushaimaa, who arrived home on Saturday from exile in Lebanon unharmed.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid a short visit to Bahrain on Thursday, reaffirming Washington's commitment to embattled King Hamad.
Bahrain is a key US ally in the Middle East and home to Washington's Fifth Fleet.