Bahrain declares state of emergency after unrest

Bahrain TV says state of emergency to last 3 months; king authorizes army to take over; French FM says G8 hopes for democratic transition.

Saudi troops Bahrain 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Saudi troops Bahrain 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
MANAMA - Bahrain has declared a state of emergency following weeks of unrest on the island kingdom, state television announced on Tuesday, saying the country's security forces would take charge for the next three months.
An order by Bahrain's King Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa "authorized the commander of Bahrain's defense forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens," said a statement read out on television.
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The royal order would come into force on Tuesday and would apply to all parts of the Gulf state, an oil and banking center which has been roiled by protests pitting the Shi'ite Muslim majority population against the ruling Sunni elite.
"These measures will be implemented by the Bahraini defense forces, the general security forces, the national guard and any other forces if necessary," the televised announcement said.
It referred to the state of emergency as "an act of national safety", adding that it had been imposed after Bahrain's institutions, economy and citizens had come under threat.
Speaking on the Bahraini king's announcement, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that G8 powers hope to see a democratic transition in Bahrain.
"Obviously we think that a democratic transition is just as important there as anywhere else," Juppe said, asked about Bahrain at a news conference after a meeting of Group of Eight foreign ministers in Paris
On Monday, more than 1,000 Saudi troops rolled into the kingdom at the request of Bahrain's Sunni rulers, who have failed to quell the country's worst unrest since the 1990s.
Sectarian clashes broke out in different parts of Bahrain overnight, with both Sunnis and Shi'ites trading accusations that they had been attacked by gangs of youths.