Bahrain Crown Prince calls for new dialogue
Manama, December 8, 2012
Bahrain Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa has renewed calls for dialogue with the country's opposition stressing that open dialogue and an end to street violence was the only way forward.
Delivering a powerful speech last night at the opening of the eighth International Institute for Strategic Studies Regional Security Summit: The Manama Dialogue 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Hotel and Spa, he said responsible leadership is called for as the country heals rifts caused by last year's unrest.
Prince Salman said Bahrain's "silent majority" had paid the price for the ongoing street violence and sent a strong message to all political groups, including the opposition, that "face-to-face" talks were imperative.
He urged Bahrainis to unite amidst the political stalemate, stressing he was not "Prince of Sunni Bahrain" or "Prince of Shia Bahrain" but the Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
"Political figures who disagree with the constitutional structure or performance of the government must condemn violence. Silence is not an option," said Prince Salman at the conference, which is being held under his patronage.
"I believe dialogue is the way forward - geopolitically, demographically and historically."
Prince Salman also called on Western countries to work with Bahrain in its reforms process and urged them to stop exclusively scrutinising government action alone.
Crown Prince Salman urged all political figures to condemn street violence but also said the government needed to push harder to reduce inequality.
"We must do more to change laws which still can lead to, in my opinion, judgements which go against protections guaranteed in our constitution. We must do more to stop the selective enforcement of law," he said.
The speech was heard by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, U.S. Assistant Secretary for State William Burns and the foreign ministers of other Gulf states.
Crown Prince Salman singled out Britain for particular praise for its support for Bahrain during its crisis but did not mention the United States in what delegates present at the conference saw as implied criticism of Washington.
"You have stood head and shoulders above others," he said of the British government, which he praised for engaging with both the Bahraini government and opposition and aiding reform of the police and judiciary.
Last month, Bahrain's government said it had arrested four suspects in multiple bombings that killed two people in the capital Manama, and it accused the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of being behind the attacks.-Reuters and Trade Arabia News Service