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By John McAfee
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Al Wefaq
Envoys from the U.S. and other countries are acting as intermediaries with the Gulf nation's rulers in attempts to ease 21 months of unrest, the head of Bahrain's main opposition group said Sunday.
A slim majority of Puerto Ricans sought to change ties with the United States and become the 51st American state in a nonbinding referendum that would require final approval from Congress.
Bahrain on Tuesday banned all protests and gatherings to ensure "security is maintained" after a spate of clashes between Shiite-led demonstrators and security forces in the Sunni-ruled country.
The leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party Wednesday confirmed that senior officials had engaged in informal contacts with the government, following a Washington Times report about a secret meeting.
Just days before Bahrain's Sunni rulers hope to open talks with the Shiite opposition they crushed, the country's most powerful pro-reform bloc is asking supporters a pivotal question: whether to join or snub the dialogue.
Bahrain's parliament accepted the resignations Tuesday of the last seven lawmakers of the Shiite opposition in a move that could exacerbate sectarian tensions in the strategic Gulf island kingdom.
Bahrain's opposition wants the nation's rulers to guarantee they will back up their conciliatory words with actions, a Shi'ite leader said Sunday as he and other activists weighed the regime's offer for talks after nearly a week of protests and deadly clashes that have divided the Gulf nation.
Protesters demanding sweeping political reforms from Bahrain's rulers held their ground Wednesday in an Egypt-style occupation of the capital's landmark square, staging a third day of demonstrations that have brought unprecedented pressure in one of Washington's most strategic allies in the Gulf.
Bahrain's embattled Shi'ite opposition movement won big in the Persian Gulf island state's parliamentary elections, according to results announced on Sunday.
"We want more authority for the Council of Representatives — this is the main thing — and we are looking in the future to have a peaceful transition of power so that the prime minister is elected directly or indirectly from the people of Bahrain," he said.
"At least if you have a goalkeeper — even if he is standing against a very good opponent — at least he will defend the goal from lots of balls coming in," he said.