Bahrain's king has approved constitutional changes that include giving parliament more powers to question and remove government ministers.

Thursday's amendments are part of reforms prompted by the nearly 15-month-old uprising in the Gulf kingdom but they fall short of demands of protesters from the country's Shiite majority, which seeks to roll back the vast powers of the ruling Sunni dynasty.

More than 50 people have died in unrest since February 2011 in the strategic island nation, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa described the reforms as an effort to end the country's strife.

Opposition groups, however, say they offer no fundamental changes. Bahrain's main Shiite parties walked out of parliament last year.