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Bahrain to fast track GCC union

May 22, 2012 at 4:05 PM
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MANAMA, Bahrain, May 22 (UPI) -- Bahrain Tuesday amended its penal code to provide for freedom of speech and expression in a bid to end year-long protests and preserve the monarchy.

On another front, the government is seeking to fast track a Gulf Cooperation Council union, an idea promoted by Saudi Arabia to create a federation for the six member countries to bring more stability to the region and counter Iran's interference, the Gulf Daily News reported.

Prime Minister Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa met to discuss the situation and warned against those who "sold their souls to become tools of destruction," the Gulf Daily News reported.

In response to rights groups' call for a "more open society," the Shura Council approved an amendment to the penal code to allow people to exercise freedom of expression and speech in line with the Constitution and the National Action Charter, the Daily Gulf News said.

Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa said, however, criminal acts are not protected by the amendment.

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