Bahrain king vows decade of reform after UK meet

Pledge follows first meeting with British PM since violent crackdown in Gulf state
Bahrain king vows decade of reform after UK meet
Prime Minister David Cameron greets King Hamad Al Khalifa at No.10 Downing Street
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Tue 13 Dec 2011 03:29 PM

The King of Bahrain has pledged a decade-long period of democratic reform following a meeting with UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday, state media reported.

King Hamad Al-Khalifa said he would back a wave of reforms in “the judicial, social and economic fields”, in pursuit of “a more just and fair society,” Bahrain News Agency said.

The meeting marked the first between the two countries since deadly clashes between protesters and Bahraini security forces broke out in February.

Some 40 people died in the unrest, while 2,000 were sacked from state jobs. A report last month found Bahraini police used excessive force and “systemic” torture against protestors.

The UK criticised the government’s response and suspended weapons sales to the Gulf kingdom after tear gas and rubber bullets were used on demonstrators.

Bahrain has since rolled out a reform drive that it says is aimed at protecting rights and freedoms while enforcing order. King Hamad said Monday that Britain’s expertise in political reform would be welcomed by the island state and requested practical support across a number of fields.

Bahrain has reportedly already hired former US police chief John Timoney and ex-London Metropolitan officer John Yates to replace its oversee reform of its police force.

The Gulf state’s Health Authority said on Monday it had reinstated 480 employees that were sacked during the unrest. The future of a further 41 employees involved in penal cases would be deciding pending the court verdicts, the authority said in a statement to news agency BNA.

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