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Bahrain opposition criticizes proposal tied to legislative, security and judicial reforms

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MANAMA, Bahrain — Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the tiny island nation of Bahrain on Friday to protest a proposal by the country's leadership for legislative, security and judicial reforms.

The rally by members of the Shiite opposition came a day after the crown prince, Sheik Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, issued a statement summarizing proposed changes that included redefining electoral districts, promises of judicial reform and new codes of conduct for security forces.

The statement follows on-and-off again talks between opposition members and the government aimed at bringing about a political solution to more than three years of unrest.

PHOTO: Pro-democracy protesters hold up a huge banner and carry signs during a march in Budaiya, Bahrain, just outside the capital of Manama, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Thousands of opposition supporters have rallied in the tiny island nation of Bahrain to protest a proposal outlined by the country's leadership related to legislative, security and judicial reforms. The banner and the yellow sign refer to upcoming parliamentary elections and both read, in English and Arabic: "Boycott until democratic demands are fulfilled." (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
Pro-democracy protesters hold up a huge banner and carry signs during a march in Budaiya, Bahrain, just outside the capital of Manama, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Thousands of opposition supporters have rallied in the tiny island nation of Bahrain to protest a proposal outlined by the country's leadership related to legislative, security and judicial reforms. The banner and the yellow sign refer to upcoming parliamentary elections and both read, in English and Arabic: "Boycott until democratic demands are fulfilled." (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Bahrain is a strategically important Western ally, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. An opposition movement dominated by the country's Shiite majority is demanding greater rights from the ruling Sunni monarchy.

The government moved to crush an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in 2011 with the help of security forces from Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Gulf Arab states. Dozens of protesters have been killed, as have some members of the security forces.

Protesters and opposition leaders on Friday dismissed the government's plan as offering too little toward their goal of greater power-sharing in the kingdom.

"We consider this letter to be a unilateral approach," said Abdul-Jalil Khalil, a leading member of the main Shiite opposition bloc, al-Wefaq.

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