Bahrain group demands deadline for Dialogue
Manama, May 11, 2014
A group that pulled out of talks designed to resolve Bahrain's political stalemate has returned to the table, but is calling for a six-month deadline to be introduced for the National Dialogue.
The Coalition of National Political Associations, headed by the National Unity Assembly (NUA), has again agreed to take part in the negotiations despite pulling out last month following a bombing in Daih, which killed three policemen on March 3, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
The Sunni coalition has now taken a U-turn, but wants the talks to be fast-tracked so the country can move forward as soon as possible.
"Initially we announced that we would boycott the talks after this terror act in which three policemen died, but have held a meeting and decided to continue with our participation," said NUA secretary-general Abdulla Al Howaihi.
He said different societies that made up the coalition agreed that participation was important at this stage, especially with the government appearing keen to end the stalemate.
They are 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.
However, Al Howaihi added they wanted a six-month timeframe for the talks - in which the opposition and government are taking part - to be completed.
"These talks have been going on since 2011 and witnessed some groups not agreeing on issues or walking out, which has been a waste of time," he said. "We cannot let it carry on like this because it does not solve the problem and we call for a six-month timeframe, during which the National Dialogue should be completed."
He said the government should then be given a six-month deadline to implement the outcomes of the talks.
"In this manner, at least in a year we will manage to do something rather than just sitting around the table," he said.
The society in February released a set of conditions for the new-look dialogue, which also included maximum eight-year terms for government ministers.
It also called for the activation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the tackling of sectarianism in employment and the promotion of the principle of equal citizenship.
Al Howaihi said the Sunni societies were ready to discuss key issues and work with the government, National Assembly and the opposition groups headed by Al Wefaq National Islamic Society.
"We strongly believe our document that has been submitted to the Royal Court covers all main issues the country is facing and calls for increased powers of parliament, amending criteria for appointing Shura Council members and reconsidering distribution of constituencies," he said.
"This is the best document and will provide a base for the talks to go ahead."
Five opposition groups taking part have also submitted visions for the talks.
They pulled out of the talks last September over the detention of former MP and senior opposition figure Khalil Al Marzooq.
The National Dialogue was later suspended on January 8 after the Sunni contingent pulled out.
However, the talks were revived on January 15 after HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, met representatives of both groups. – TradeArabia News Service