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BAHRAIN: King shuffles Cabinet as demonstrations continue

February 26, 2011 | 11:14 am

Bahrain Bahrain's Sunni King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa replaced four members of the country's Cabinet on Saturday, including two members of the royal family, as demonstrations calling for democratic reforms and a crackdown on corruption continued in the island nation.

The king also slashed citizens' monthly housing costs by 25% and urged the newly appointed housing minister to speed up plans for new housing projects, according to the Bahrain News Agency.

"The march of development and reform momentum is continuing unabatedly, armed with a strong will and a high morale, and in cooperation with all sections of Bahrain people," the news agency quoted him as saying.

Opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, a Shiite, returned to the country Saturday after months of voluntary exile, and called on the government to respond to protesters' demands. Mushaima had previously been accused to plotting to overthrow the government.

Small protests are continuing in the country, which is primarily Shiite but is ruled by a Sunni family. Government forces opened fire on protesters last week, but protests have been largely peaceful. Still, at least one demonstrator has disappeared since the protests began.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Bahrani protesters in Manama. Credit: Mazen Mahdi / EPA