Bahraini political groups welcome invitation for new national dialogueSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 23/01/2013 5:33 pm in World / no comments
MANAMA, Jan. 22 — Political groups in Bahrain, including the opposition, on Tuesday welcomed the call by the leadership for a new round of national dialogue to end the political stalemate, with several leaders expected to have closed- door meetings in the coming days to discuss their demands for the second round of talks.
The main opposition group Al Wefaq National Islamic Society said Tuesday that it reiterated its “seriousness to engage in a genuine process of dialogue and political negotiations.”
“These aspirations stem from the legitimate demands raised by the political majority of the people of Bahrain in the Feb. 14 revolution that started in 2011 to transit to a modern democratic civil state that enables the people of sovereignty and to be the source of all powers as stated in the Manama Document,” stated a spokesperson of Al Wefaq.
The opposition’s statement came after a direct invitation from Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa on Monday to all political societies to sit down at the negotiation table to iron out issues and reach a consensus.
A coalition of opposition groups, including Al Wefaq, National Democratic Action Society, National Democratic Gathering Society, National Democratic Assemblage, Democratic Progressive Tribune and Al Ekhaa National Society (Ekhaa), endorsed in 2011 the Manama Document, which they intended to raise once again in the dialogue. It includes demands for an elected government, new electoral districts, parliament with more powers, a more independent judiciary, changes in the way Bahraini citizenship is awarded and tackling alleged discrimination.
“The opposition hopes that this invitation for dialogue is an honest and serious one, unlike previous invitations. The dialogue must also meet legitimized requirements either through a referendum or a constitutive council, in order to enable the people of sovereignty and the final say in accepting or rejecting the outcomes, in accordance to international standards,” stated the spokesperson.
A pro-government group, the National Unity Assembly (NUA), welcomed the invitation for national dialogue by the justice minister under directives from the leadership.
“For the national interest to protect the future of all citizens, it is important for a serious dialogue that violence in the streets must stop and any steps taken to divide citizens or incite hatred are avoided,” the NUA said in a statement.
More than 300 representatives from different factions of the society, including the opposition, took part in the national dialogue in July 2011. After the dialogue, several recommendations were made and implemented, while others are in progress.
Al Wefaq members pulled out of the talks, stating that they were not happy with the seriousness of the process conducted.
Bahrain was hit in 2011 by a series of protests, some of which turned violent and resulted in the death of citizens, expatriates and scores of policemen.