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U.S. Decries Bahrain Ban On Public Demonstrations

The Obama administration has denounced in unusually harsh terms a ban on public demonstrations imposed by Bahrain, a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf that is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on October 31 that the United States was "deeply concerned" by the ban, which he said violated freedoms of assembly, association, and expression.

Toner said the move ran "contrary" to Bahrain's promises to reform and urged the authorities to respect commitments to uphold fundamental human rights.

Bahrain's interior minister stressed on October 31 that the ban is only temporary.

The Shi'ite majority in the Sunni-ruled kingdom launched a wave of protests in February 2011 aimed at winning a greater political voice.

Dozens have been killed and thousands jailed since then.

Shi'a make up 70 percent of Bahrain's population.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP