Bahrain opposition holds rally calling for more political rights
Bahrain's opposition on Saturday held on to its demand of an elected government that represents the will of the people, as the government announced details of a national dialogue scheduled for next month, dpa reported.
Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of al-Wefaq - the largest Islamist Shiite opposition group, told thousands of supporters: "We look forward to a country where all citizens are equal ... We will continue to push for these demands in a peaceful manner."
Eighteen parliamentarians from al-Wefaq had resigned in protest over the government crackdown on protesters.
The rally was the first of its kind since martial law introduced in mid-March to quell pro-reforms protests, was lifted on June 1.
Following the introduction of martial law and the deployment of Gulf forces, mainly from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, more then 1,000 people - a majority of them Shiites - have been detained, according to Bahraini officials.
Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa has said that about 400 remain in custody and face trial.
Those detained include members of Shiite opposition groups, former parliamentarians, human rights activists, doctors, nurses, teachers, students and lawyers.
More than 1,500 people have been sacked from their jobs for taking part in the anti-government rallies. Bahrain's official news agency reported Friday that 571 had been reinstated, while the cases of the rest continue to be reviewed.
Bahrain King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa had set early July for the start of a national dialogue where political groups can present their demands.
At least 30 people have been killed in the government crackdown on protesters, which included the use of live ammunition, activists say.
Protests demanding political reforms in Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority Bahrain began on February 14.
Bahrain, which is the home of the US Navy 5th Fleet, and other Sunni-ruled countries in the region have accused Shiite-led Iran of meddling in the country's internal affairs.