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Bahrain protesters vow will not budge

Street protesters say they want nothing less than to bring the regime down.

Manama: Bahrain protesters vowed on Wednesday not
to budge from Pearl Square, epicentre of anti-regime
demonstrations, despite the release of leading Shiite
opposition activists and renewed calls by the king for talks.

One day after a mass demonstration clogged the main roads
of Manama, Shiite protesters again crowded Pearl Square today,
chanting: "We are brothers, Sunnis and Shiites. We shall not
abandon this country."

"We shall never be humiliated," shouted one woman,
evoking a traditional Shiite slogan that blared out of
megaphones across the square, now renamed "Martyrs`
Roundabout" by demonstrators to honour those killed in a
deadly police raid early Thursday.

Embattled King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa meanwhile
renewed an appeal for the opposition to heed calls for
dialogue, as 23 Shiite activists were released from prison
following a royal pardon.

King Hamad said the decision to free the prisoners came
in response to the pleas voiced during a mass pro-government
rally on Monday.

"Now that everyone with an opinion has already voiced it,
we tell everybody that public squares are not the right place
for national dialogue," BNA state news agency quoted King
Hamad as saying late Tuesday.

"What is right is to sit to the table of national
dialogue adopted by our heir, in which I supported him," he

The royal pardon also includes Freedom Islamic Movement
secretary general Said al-Shihabi, who lives in London along
with Hassan Mashaima, leader of the opposition Haq movement.
The two were being tried in absentia.

Mashaima was expected to return to Manama on Tuesday but
did not.

Haq is a radical Shiite group which refused to end its
boycott of elections, unlike the Islamic National Accord
Association (INAA), the country`s main Shiite group which took
part in 2006 elections and controls now 18 of the 40
parliamentary seats.

The 18-strong bloc has quit parliament in protest at
Thursday`s killings.

Street protesters are saying they want nothing less than
to bring the regime down, but official opposition groups have
stopped short of voicing the same intent, instead demanding
the resignation of the government, the implementation of
reforms and the creation of a "real constitutional monarchy."


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