Manama: One of the eight independent parliamentarians taking part in national talks in Bahrain has blasted a call by the coalition of the opposition to exclude them from the table.
“The proposal by the coalition of the five opposition societies not to have delegates from the parliament at the talks cannot be accepted and is totally rejected,” MP Lateefa Al Gaood said. “It is a queer attempt by the opposition to eliminate the representatives of the people from the talks after they were able to refute all their sectarian arguments and allegations. In fact, one of their eight members at the national dialogue referred to us as the enemy,” she said.
The national talks were launched on February 10 to help break a political deadlock that has gripped the nation since February 2011 when Bahrainis became sharply divided over the merit and purpose of the dramatic events that occurred in the country.
The talks brought together eight delegates from the coalition of the opposition, eight delegates from another coalition of ten political societies, eight independent parliamentarians and three government ministers. The interlocutors have been holding rounds regularly once or twice a week.
However, on Wednesday, the coalition of the opposition insisted that the talks be confined to the political coalitions, arguing that the parliamentarians were not independent and were pro-government.
Under a proposal for a fair representation at the table, the coalition said that as long as parliamentarians were present, the imbalance was too strongly in favour of the government.
“This is utter nonsense,” Lateefa, the first woman to be elected to a parliament in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 2006, said. “The elected members at the parliament represent 52 per cent of the people, and excluding them means marginalising half of the population. Resorting to these arguments and using such language do not befit people who deal in politics,” she said.
Lateefa blamed the opposition for stalling the talks “by attempting to impose conditions and obstacles to its progress”.
“In the beginning, they called for a representative of the government, and then they asked for a representative of the king at the table. Now, they are pressing for excluding the representatives of the people,” she said. “In all cases, we will be affected by these calls and the parliamentarians will not desert or move away from the dialogue table no matter how intense the calls to exclude us are.”
The opposition societies accepted sitting with the parliamentarians when the talks were launched in February, she said.
“They were fully aware of the components of the dialogue called for by the king, and we find it frivolous that after all this time, they decide to exclude us,” she said. “It is obvious that the coalition of the opposition is not willing to have the dialogue move forward and is seeking to impose one condition after the other,” Lateefa said.
The 17th round of the talks is scheduled for Wednesday amid growing frustration by the people that the 27 interlocutors have not been able to agree on an agenda for the dialogue.