S&P downgrades Bahrain on political concerns
Standard & Poor's said Friday it had cut Bahrain's long- and short-term local and foreign currency sovereign credit ratings because of mounting political unrest in the Gulf monarchy.
"The lowering of Bahrain's long-term sovereign rating reflects our view that its political and economic environments are fundamentally more challenging as a result of the events of the last three weeks," S&P analyst Mike Noone said in a statement.
Bahrain's Shiite opposition meanwhile called for fresh demonstrations after Friday prayers, in defiance of martial law and a violent crackdown by the US-backed kingdom's security forces.
The S&P downgrade came just hours after the UN sanctioned air strikes against Libyan forces loyal to leader Moamer Kadhafi threatening to ramp up the pressure across a region roiled by increasing demands for political change.
Despite the crackdown, Bahrain's Shiite-led opposition has vowed to press on with "peaceful" demonstrations for democratic change from the Sunni Muslim ruling dynasty.
All demonstrations are banned under martial law imposed Tuesday, a day before the security forces firing tear gas and shotguns ended a month-old pro-democracy sit-in at Manama's Pearl Square, killing three.
Bahraini police have been reinforced with more than 1,000 armoured troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states but the foreign forces have kept a low profile.
© 2011 AFP