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Second society snubs National Dialogue

Manama, February 20, 2013

A second political society has pulled out of the dialogue amidst escalating street violence, blaming opposition groups for not controlling their supporters during the second anniversary of anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain.

The recent developments resulted in the deaths of 16-year-old Hussain Al Jazeeri and 23-year-old policeman Mohammed Asif Khan Afridi, and injuries to 75 officers over the weekend.

Al Saaf Al Islami Society’s assistant secretary-general Dr Yousef Mashal confirmed to our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News, that its secretary-general Abdulla Bu Ghammar, who has been taking part in the talks will not show up for the third session today at Al Areen Resort and Spa in Sakhir.

The National Consensus Dialogue faced a setback last week when Al Menbar Islamic Society withdrew from the talks.

"Our seat will be empty as our society representative will not take part in future sessions," said Dr Mashal.

"Our society board members decided to quit from the talks as we cannot face in the talks those responsible for the escalation of violence since last week.”

"This atmosphere is not ideal for dialogue and all political societies should condemn violence."

Both societies are part of the National Alliance of Political Societies, which is headed by the National Unity Assembly (NUA) and was formed to counterbalance opposition groups during the dialogue.

Opposition groups led by Al Wefaq National Islamic Society pulled out of the 2011 dialogue two weeks in, but have now urged other societies not to follow suit and continue participating in the second round of talks.

"We understand that opposition groups are under clear international pressure to continue with the dialogue process, but on the other side look how violence and terrorist acts have increased on the streets," added Dr Mashal.

"This time they (opposition groups) are participating but the clear escalation of violence has forced other societies to pull out.”

"This is what they want to show that they are participating, but others are quitting."

The society, which has around 4,600 registered members, has still not officially informed organisers of its decision.

"We do not need to get permission from anybody to quit from the talks and have not informed anyone about our decision," said Dr Mashal.

However, NUA head Dr Shaikh Abdullatif Al Mahmood had said they would continue with talks that could shape the country's political future.

Similar views were echoed by National Democratic Action Society (Waad), which is part of the coalition of opposition groups.

"We (opposition groups) will be present to discuss key issues and finalise the agenda," said Waad senior member Dr Muneera Fakhro.

Political figures, three ministers, four MPs and four Shura Council members are talking part in the dialogue, which has no time frame and will continue until participants reach consensus.

Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa has been assigned to refer the agreed outcomes to His Majesty King Hamad. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Manama | National Dialogue |

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