S&P downgrades Bahrain on political concerns

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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

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