Bahrain opposition given talks deadline
Manama, October 31, 2013
Bahrain’s opposition has been given five weeks to decide whether it will continue participating in the National Dialogue or withdraw from the talks.
The remaining participants from the government, National Coalition (Sunni contingent) and independents (Shura Council members and MPs) agreed to issue the ultimatum during last night's session, reported the Gulf daily News, our sister publucatioin.
It means if the opposition fails to attend the next meeting scheduled for December 4 they could be permanently axed from the table.
Opposition figures announced on Monday that they will continue to boycott the dialogue - despite the release of one of their top leaders from prison.
Five groups taking part in the initiative announced their indefinite suspension from the process last month 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 week on guarantee of his place of residence by the High Criminal Court, but has been banned from travelling out of Bahrain.
National Coalition spokesman Khalid Al Qattan criticised opposition's boycott of the talks, which was set up by His Majesty King Hamad to find a solution to Bahrain's political crisis.
"It is a national duty to take part in the dialogue and the opposition, like us, has a chance to shape Bahrain's future," he said.
"A month is a enough time for the opposition to reconsider and we hope that they will take a patriotic decision to rejoin us at the table."
Shura Council legislative and legal affairs committee chairwoman Dalal Al Zayed said several options would be explored if the opposition fails to respond in writing by December 3 or attend the session the following day.
"We will look into options on how dialogue will continue after axing the opposition, but we want them to come back for the sake of a healthy dialogue," she said.
"Sometimes wrong decisions are taken, but with time things become clear and those behind them change their minds." – TradeArabia News Service