Al Howaihi, second from left, speaking during the press conference
alongside representatives of other political societies
Ultimatum to end Bahrain's dialogue impasse
Manama, February 13, 2014
National Dialogue participants should end Bahrain's three-year political stalemate in the next six months, according to a group of political societies.
The Coalition of the National Political Associations, headed by the National Unity Assembly (NUA), has demanded a timeframe for the talks to fast-track the process, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
They released a set of conditions for the new-look dialogue yesterday, which also included maximum eight-year terms for government ministers.
"The mechanism of the output of these talks and guarantee of its implementations are important at this stage," said NUA secretary-general Abdulla Al Howaihi.
"We have agreed on a timeframe for the dialogue which should not exceed six months. We put it on our list of conditions because we mean it."
He was speaking during a press conference held at the NUA headquarters in Busaiteen in the presence of other members of the coalition - the National Action Charter Society, Al Wasat Arab Islamic Society, National Constitutional Gathering, National Dialogue Society, Al Menbar National Islamic Society and Islamic Shura Society.
Al Howaihi said they were determined to work with the government, legislative authority and the opposition groups headed by Al Wefaq National Islamic Society.
"We have agreed to divide the agenda teams, composed of the four parties, and after they are agreed on, they will be presented on the table for the participants to amend or approve it in its final form," he added.
Some of the issues agreed by the Sunni contingent call for the activation of the United Nations convention against corruption, end to non-quota in employment and promotion of the principle of equal citizenship.
"We stand united to tackle corruption at all levels and call for increased transparency by activating the financial disclosure law," said Al Howaihi.
"The executive authority should also be held accountable and be time-limited.
"What we mean is that a minister should not hold his portfolio for more than eight years."
The seven societies also called for increasing powers of parliament, amending criteria for appointing Shura Council members, independence of judiciary, reconsidering distribution of constituencies, respecting rights of naturalised citizens and social justice.
Al Howaihi said they were also open for other political groups to be part of their coalition, namely Al Asala Islamic Society and the National Justice Movement (Adala).
He, however, opposed one of the demands of the opposition groups, which was released last week.
"Regarding the demand of opposition groups to release prisoners, the law has been applied and court has found the men guilty," said Al Howaihi.
"The law should be implemented against anyone and it is also the responsibility of the leadership."
The National Dialogue was suspended on January 8 after the Sunni contingent pulled out of the talks over unresolved critical issues.
The five opposition groups walked out of the talks last September over the detention of former MP and key opposition figure Khalil Al Marzooq.
However, the talks were revived on January 15 after His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, met with representatives from both groups to discuss ways to overcome the obstacles to dialogue.
All parties agreed on a new phase of dialogue after the meeting to reconcile on several points, as the Royal Court is making arrangements to receive new agendas from the participants to go ahead with the talks. - TradeArabia News Service