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Bahrain opposition ‘ready to resume talks’

Manama, December 11, 2012

Bahrain's opposition has claimed it has dropped preconditions for holding talks with the government, according to a report.

Hamed Khalaf, vice-president of the decision-making body of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, told our sister publication the Gulf Daily News yesterday (December 10) that it was ready to enter a dialogue "as early as today".

The society has been accused of undermining government attempts to push forward with a second round of national dialogue by refusing to scrap preconditions.

It has so far defied calls from the international community for all parties to take part in unconditional talks, but Khalaf said it was ready to engage.

"There are no preconditions, full stop," Khalaf told the GDN yesterday.

"There is a proposal to present the results of the dialogue before the people after the dialogue is over, but that is not a precondition. This is what we believe in because we have to tell the people what we have done."

The news comes just days after His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, issued a call for all parties to come together for talks.

Foreign powers including the UK and US have repeatedly called on groups like Al Wefaq to enter unconditional talks to end the current stalemate.

However, they had previously been holding out for certain guarantees before coming to the table.

Only last month a former Al Wefaq MP told the GDN it wanted full implementation of Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry recommendations before it would participate in a dialogue.

He also said it wanted seven areas of debate, proposed by HRH the Crown Prince in March last year, to be included in discussions.

These were an elected government, new electoral districts, parliament with more powers, a more independent judiciary, changes in the way Bahraini citizenship is awarded and the tackling of alleged discrimination.

Khalaf said the organisation still hoped to raise those points in talks, but their inclusion was not a precondition.

"We will bring all these issues to the table and talk," he said. "We believe in these issues and will discuss them."

He added Al Wefaq and other opposition parties had already signed a nonviolence declaration, which says violence should never be used to pursue legitimate demands, nor block legitimate demands of others.

It also calls for a commitment to nonviolence, tolerance, full respect to human rights, basic rights for all, democracy, development, diversity and respect.

The document states its signatories believe in dignity, freedom, justice, equality, diversity, plurality and participation in a modern democratic state. – TradeArabia News Service




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