By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Bahrain’s main Shi’ite opposition group has rejected an offer of national dialogue to end days of unrest.
Senior members of the Wefaq bloc said the government must first resign and the army pull off the streets of the capital, Manama.
King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa had asked his eldest son, Crown Prince Salman, to start a national dialogue “with all parties” to resolve the political crisis which has left four protesters dead and hundreds more wounded.
Some 60 protesters were hospitalized on February 18, when security forces fired on protesters heading to Manama’s central Pearl Square.
Many of the protesters in the Persian Gulf island, which has a disaffected Shi’ite majority, have been calling for the overthrow of the Sunni Muslim royal family.
U.S. President Barack Obama has phoned King Hamad to urge restraint. He said Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is based, must respect the “universal rights” of its people and embrace “meaningful reform.”