Middle East

Thousands join Bahrain protest rally before talks

Protesters hold banners with sign "No U Turn" meaning "No Returning Back" and hold Bahraini flags as they participates in a rally organised by Bahrain's main opposition society Al Wefaq, in Budaiya west of Manama, Bahrain, February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

MANAMA: Thousands of protesters in Bahrain are demonstrating against the Gulf nation's monarchy, less than a week before planned talks aimed at easing a two-year political crisis.

Wednesday's march includes some groups favoring the dialogue. But many appear to take a hard line against the Western-backed rulers with harsh slogans, suggesting divisions in the opposition ahead of talks set for next week.

Shiite protesters have increasingly demanded a stronger voice in the affairs of the Sunni-ruled nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Although the majority in Bahrain, Shiites claim they face systematic discrimination.

Protest gatherings are planned every day until Feb. 14, the second anniversary of the uprising.

Main Shiite political factions have agreed to hold preliminary talks with Sunni officials beginning Sunday.





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