Bahrain Shiite opposition seeks reform referendum

AP News
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Posted: Aug 17, 2011 10:14 AM
Bahrain Shiite opposition seeks reform referendum

The head of Bahrain's main Shiite Muslim opposition party wants a referendum over whether the Gulf kingdom's rulers should retain their wide powers.

The appeal by Ali Salman seeks to increase pressure for broader reconciliation efforts. Salman told reporters Wednesday the proposed referendum would ask whether the tiny island nation's government should be elected or remain appointed by the leaders.

It's seen highly unlikely that Bahrain's Sunni monarchy would allow such a vote, after months of crackdowns against Shiite-led protests demanding greater rights.

Salman's Al Wefaq party has broken off talks with Bahrain's rulers and plans to boycott parliament elections next month.

Mass protests led by Bahrain's majority Shiites began in February, inspired by other Arab uprisings.