Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Bahrain set to resume talks on consensus

Opposition vows to keep up protests while concern is raised by political groups at the lack of agenda for the discussions.

Bahrain's justice minister is set to open political talks to "promote vital national interests" today amid the prospect of further unrest this week in the run-up to the second anniversary of Arab Spring-inspired protests in the kingdom.

The resumption of the National Consensus Dialogue being hosted by Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa comes ahead of the anniversary of the protests at the Pearl roundabout in Manama on February 14, 2011.

The talks are expected to include eight representatives each from the two main political alliances, eight legislators, and two or three government ministers, said the dialogue's official spokesman, Isa Abdulrahman.

The Shiite bloc Al Wefaq leads the opposition alliance of six organisations. Loyalist groups form the second alliance, calling itself the National Coalition.

The National Dialogue resurrects an attempt at political discussion that began in 2011. Initial talks organised under the court of the crown prince in February fell apart when opposition societies withdrew after a Gulf Cooperation Council military operation dispersed protesters in early March.

Two years later, protests by the Shiite majority continue throughout the country - most recently in a licensed opposition march last Friday - often attracting tens of thousands of demonstrators who say that they face discrimination and political marginalisation.

Opposition societies, as well as a coalition of youth groups calling themselves February 14, have vowed to continue their protests in the lead-up to the anniversary date.

Although the renewal of dialogue has been cautiously welcomed, figures from across the political spectrum have expressed concerns about the agenda for the discussions, which has yet to be agreed upon.

Al Wefaq had called for greater clarity on the topics and the organisation of the talks to "promote an atmosphere of political trust", according to a statement from the group on February 6. In recent weeks, the opposition alliance has argued that the country should move towards greater political change, including a transitional government.

"The demands of the Bahraini people are very clear and any cosmetic dialogue or measures that do not result in a radical reshaping of the political ruling system in Bahrain will not achieve sustainable stability," the alliance said on Friday.

The National Coalition alliance, meanwhile, has also expressed concerns about the ambiguity of the agenda.

Mr Abdulrahman said that setting an agenda would be the first priority for talks.

"The first session will be dedicated to agree on the agenda and topics," he said, adding that there was no fixed timeline for the discussions.

"We don't want the time to be a factor against the participants; therefore the participants will determine how long they will need to reach consensus."

 

edickinson@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National