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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 16:21 GMT
Sheikh promises Bahraini local democracy



The Emir of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, has promised greater democracy by reviving the country's elected municipal councils.

In a speech marking Bahrain's national day, the Emir said his government, which is dominated by members of his family, wanted to renew Bahrain in all fields.

He said he would begin by introducing the elected municipal councils, which were abolished in the 1970s.

He said that both men and women would be able to vote for these.

But the BBC Gulf correspondent says the councils won't have the power of the national assembly which was abolished in 1975.

Our correspondent says demands for its revival remain a rallying point for the opposition.

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