Dialogue boycott continues in Bahrain
Manama, October 29, 2013
Opposition groups in Bahrain say they will continue to boycott the National Dialogue initiative - despite one of their top leader's release from prison, a report said.
The talks are due to resume at the Isa Cultural Centre in Juffair tomorrow (October 30) after breaking for the Eid holidays and Haj season, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Five groups taking part in the initiative announced their indefinite suspension from the process in September following the detention of former MP Khalil Al Marzooq.
The Al Wefaq National Islamic Society official was arrested after allegedly being caught on camera raising the flag of the Coalition of February 14 during an opposition rally in Saar.
It is the same group credited with training teenagers in firearms and bomb-making, blowing up ATMs, orchestrating arson attacks on car showrooms, detonating a series of explosive devices in Manama that killed two Asians and other terrorist activities.
However, Al Marzooq claimed the flag was handed to him and he did not know what it was.
The former political assistant to Al Wefaq secretary-general Shaikh Ali Salman has been charged with having links with an outlawed terrorist organisation, promoting and inciting terrorist acts and abusing his position.
He was released last Thursday on guarantee of his place of residence by the High Criminal Court, but has been banned from travelling out of Bahrain.
"The stance by the opposition groups to continue with their suspension of the talks is more to do with our list of demands submitted by the opposition groups in the talks that have not been considered or discussed," said Democratic Progressive Tribune secretary-general Abdulnabi Salman.
Opposition group representatives last month submitted a list of demands that called for release of "prisoners of conscience", a more independent judiciary, implementing recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report.
They also demanded an end to alleged police raids on homes, called for all groups to be allowed to air their views and the halting of what they claimed was attempts to divide the society based on sect.
"We have patiently attended the sessions for eight months, but the process is not moving forwards because it is important to create an atmosphere for the talks to be fruitful," said Mr Salman.
Opposition societies who have suspended their participation account for only eight seats out of 27 seats at the negotiating table in the talks, which got underway in February.
Salman described the discussions as "not serious" enough to result in any breakthrough. "We are open for any talks provided the results are reflected on the ground," he said.
However, the National Unity Assembly (NUA), which heads the coalition of eight political societies (the Sunni contingent) in the talks, said pre-conditions and trying to dictate the terms of the Dialogue was not correct.
"Political blackmailing at this point when we have come so far in the talks is not acceptable by any means," said NUA secretary-general Abdulla Al Howaihi
"We acknowledge the fact that opposition groups are an important part of this whole process and cannot be left out."
Al Howaihi said the repeated stalling of the process by opposition groups showed they were not serious in making the talks succeed.
"His Majesty King Hamad in his speech last week clearly said the dialogue door will always remain open," he said. "All of us in the political arena should work together to make this process successful. We would like opposition groups to continue with their participation." – TradeArabia News Service