Bahrain talks suspended as coalition pulls out
Manama, January 9, 2014
Bahrain's National Dialogue initiative has been suspended indefinitely after another key set of participants pulled out of the talks.
Members of the National Coalition (Sunni contingent) yesterday announced it would no longer take part in the process until a number of crucial issues were resolved, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Opposition groups have been boycotting the dialogue since last September in protest at the arrest of MP Khalil Al Marzooq, who was later released.
It leaves the initiative, which aimed to find a long-term solution to Bahrain's political stalemate, in tatters less than a year after it was launched.
National Coalition representatives confirmed the decision to indefinitely suspend its participation during a press conference two hours before last night's session.
Coalition spokesman and Al Menbar National Islamic Society representative Dr Khalid Al Qattan and Al Asala Islamic Society representative Adnan Al Bader turned up to explain the decision.
They said the group will not resume talks unless the opposition rejoins the process without preconditions and timeframe was set by the government to reach a deal.
"We want all of the four groups to be a part of dialogue as we look for solutions internally and with positivity and without the four, dialogue can't be healthy and will lead nowhere," said Dr Al Qattan outside the Isa Cultural Centre in Juffair.
"The coalition is willing to sit with the opposition now to reach an understanding on the future of dialogue because we believe their feedback is necessary, but they have to denounce terrorism and violence."
Al Asala earlier withdrew from the National Coalition, but continues to participate in the talks.
Al Bader blamed the opposition for the collapse of the dialogue.
"We don't have any intention to meet them on the sidelines because we believe that they are one of the problems that needs to be addressed," he said.
Government officials and parliament and Shura Council representatives showed up at last night's talks and agreed to suspend sessions indefinitely.
But dialogue spokesman Isa Abdulrahman remains hopeful the landmark project, instigated by His Majesty King Hamad, will resume.
"Dialogue has been suspended, but that doesn't mean talks on the sidelines are barred and maybe a breakthrough could be reached," he said.
Shura Council legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Dalal Al Zayed said everyone who showed up at last night's session understood the National Coalition's decision.
"The opposition's carelessness and unpatriotic feeling with demands that are not related to the talks is the reason behind true outcomes not being attained," she said.
The talks, which began on February 10 last year, have suffered a series of setbacks that led to several sessions being suspended due to conflicts between participants.
Al Marzooq, whose detention sparked the opposition boycott, is on trial at the High Criminal Court accused of having links to an outlawed terrorist group, promoting terrorist acts and abusing his position.
However, lawyers branded the case against him as "unconstitutional" and demanded the case against him be thrown out.
Meanwhile, independents representing the legislative branch last night backed the decision to suspend the talks.
They blamed five political societies for failing in their responsibilities, lacking commitment to national fundamentals and values and principles stipulated in the National Action Charter. They also slammed the societies for pursuing their own political interests. - TradeArabia News Service