Bahrain's Emir, Sheikh Hamad al-Khalifa abolished Sunday the emergency laws in force in the Gulf state for more than 25 years just a few days after the Bahraini people voted overwhelmingly in a referendum for a new national charter which promises a freely-elected parliament, said press reports. Meanwhile, an opposition movement had reservations.
Under a decree issued by the emir, the ministries of justice and Islamic affairs as well as the interior ministry were ordered to implement the new law abolishing the state security court and the state security law, reported the Bahrain Tribune newspaper, quoted an official statement as saying.
The state security Law was enacted in 1975.
"We are taking the necessary steps to abolish the state security law and the state security court, taking into account the new found trust between the people and their emir," said Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa al-Khalifa, the Tribune quoted him as saying.
In a statement issued on Sunday, a London-based opposition group said the abolition was not enough as it should come through a parliament law to ensure its sustainability.
Although the Islamic Movement for the Liberation of Bahrain hailed the move as the result for the Bahrainis’ struggle and suffering for years, it said that Manama can retract the decision any time as long as it has not been passed through constitutional channels.
According to the charter, there will be parliamentary elections in 2003.
In a referendum last week, Bahrainis voted overwhelmingly to transform the country into a constitutional monarchy under a national charter and to restore the parliament, which was scrapped in 1975.
The charter was published in December as the key element of a liberalization process that the emir launched after the death of his father in March 1999.
The huge support for the charter closed a chapter of dissent and turmoil begun with parliament's dissolution in 1975, just two years after its launch, sparking anti-government violence in which at least 38 people died between 1994 and 1999.
Opposition support for the government's reforms was finally won on the eve of the referendum when the emir declared an amnesty freeing hundreds of political prisoners and allowing the return of exiled dissidents – Albawaba.com
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