Opposition groups ‘not sure’ of dialogue
Manama, February 11, 2013
Bahrain’s opposition groups are still hesitant to take part in the dialogue, despite showing up for the first session yesterday, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.
However, they said indications that true consensus could be achieved have been positive.
A decision on whether to continue in the second round of National Consensus Dialogue will be made after assessing Wednesday's discussions.
Eight political figures are representing the opposition, which is a mixture of Shi'ite and secular movements.
The Coalition of Six Opposition Groups include Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, the National Brotherhood Society (Ekhaa), National Democratic Action Society (Waad), National Democratic Assembly Society (Al Qawmi), Unity Democratic Gathering Society (Wahdawy) and Democratic Progressive Tribune (Al Taqadumy).
However, Al Wahdawy has refused to be part of the opposition's representation at the talks despite being given a seat.
Waad senior member Dr Muneera Fakhro said their appearance at the first day of talks was to determine whether it was beneficial for the group to continue or not.
"Dialogue has not begun and the meeting is just being held to determine mechanisms and the way things would be handled by participants," she said.
"When the opening session is over, an assessment will be carried out and accordingly our participation will be decided and it will be announced either through a press conference or statement."
Despite threats of pulling out, Al Wefaq's Shura (consultative) body head and former MP Sayed Jameel Kadhim said the opposition was dealing with the situation positively.
"We are showing positive indications towards the dialogue and our attendance shows that we want solutions to get out of the dark tunnel the country is in," he said.
"It is true that we have reservations on the participants' lineup, but that doesn't mean we don't see a possible positive outcome."
His concerns were reiterated by Al Taqadumy secretary-general Abdulnabi Salman.
"As an opposition we have come to enrich debate and we never had preconditions and just had suggestions to make the dialogue more successful," he added.
"We just want to know from where this dialogue is set to begin, how it will be managed from within and where it will lead us in the end."
Meanwhile, Al Qawmi secretary-general Dr Hassan Al A'ali said there were disputes among the opposition on the different approaches in taking part in the talks.
"The majority wanted us to check whether taking part was beneficial, so we showed up for the first session," he explained.
Dialogue is not the solution, but a crucial part of what is needed to end two years of political stalemate, said Ahmed Juma who is the spokesman for a coalition formed to counter opposition groups at the talks.
The National Alliance of Political Societies, which consists of mainly Sunni Islamist groups, includes the National Unity Assembly, National Action Charter Society, Al Menbar National Islamic Society, Al Asala Islamic Society, Al Wasat Arab Islamic Society, National Constitutional Assembly, National Dialogue Society, Al Shura Islamic Society and Al Saf Islamic Society.
"We listened to others' visions and ideas without any tense arguments or disagreements and this shows that we are doing things right," he said after the first session last night.
"The opposition has presented its papers with nine issues and we will present ours during the next session and it only includes issues agreed on by the nine societies and not those we have internal conflicts on.”
"Nothing is perfect in life and so is in dialogue. So people shouldn't push us because in the end we have to reach a realistic consensus for the sake of Bahrain."
Juma added that all participants have started trusting each other and agreed that the country's future comes first.
"The one-thousand mile journey starts with a step and we today have taken that step," he said.
His comments were reiterated by Al Wefaq National Islamic Society shura (consultative) body head Sayed Jameel Khadim.
"Common grounds will mean achievement for the outcome of this dialogue and to us everything is under a test as we observe the seriousness in issues discussed," he said.
"So far, we have a reasonable understanding and with it will come reward." – TradeArabia News Service