Bahrain government 'confident' Grand Prix will not be disrupted
Sunday, 22 April 2012
*The Bahraini government is confident its security measures will prevent pro-democracy demonstrators disrupting Sunday's controversial Grand Prix.*
Violent clashes between protesters and security forces have intensified since the Formula 1 circus arrived in the country, and activist Salah Habib Abbas was reportedly shot dead by police in one confrontation.
Protesters and police have clashed ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix (AFP/Getty Images)
Around 50,000 anti-government demonstrators have gathered in the capital Manama ahead of the race, but the authorities have taken steps designed to prevent them travelling to the circuit in Sakhir, around 25 miles away.
The road to the race track is lined with barbed wire and armoured vehicles.
Fahad al Binali, a spokesman for the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority, said he believed the security services would cope with any attempt to disrupt the race itself.
'Guaranteeing is difficult, but we have the best measures in place. I'm very confident and assure everybody about safety,' he said.
Foreign secretary William Hague has called on the Bahraini government to show 'restraint' in dealing with the protests, while Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Grand Prix should be cancelled because of the ongoing concerns about human rights abuses in the state.
Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn responded by questioning why the politicians had waited until the last minute to raise their objections.
He said: 'I find it very frustrating that politicians in the UK were saying we should withdraw once we got here. Why didn't they say anything beforehand?
'For somebody to try and make Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton determine the foreign policy of the country is wrong.'
The 2011 race was cancelled after international criticism of the violent response to Bahrain's pro-democracy protests.