Bahrain may hold referendum
Manama, March 13, 2011
Bahrain may hold a referendum once a dialogue with opposition groups produces an agreement, HRH the Crown Prince said yesterday.
“The people of Bahrain in one vote will be the final arbiters,” His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, told reporters after talks with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, a report in the Gulf Daily News quoting AFP said.
He said he was optimistic that opposition groups would participate in a dialogue with the government. “I’m hopeful that they will join the dialogue without preconditions. We have given them the best deal they can hope for,” he said.
Gates ealier met His Majesty King Hamad.
Gates said Bahrain’s leaders needed to move quickly on an open dialogue. He said he came away encouraged that the country’s leaders were ready to take “far-reaching steps” to accommodate changes.
“And I also said that under the circumstances and with the impulse behind the political and economic grievances across the region, real reform would be necessary.”
With unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, the US has struggled to balance its longstanding ties with Arab regimes with support for democratic reform.