Gulf | Bahrain

Representation issue tops Bahrain talks

Minister reaffirms commitment to dialogue continuation

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 11:45 June 22, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s government is keen on discussing proposals submitted by the opposition over a “fair representation” at the national dialogue, the education minister has said.

“We are ready as a government to discuss the document presented by the alliance of five societies over the issue of fair representation,” Majed Al Nuaimi, one of the three ministers at the talks, said. “The societies were given time to explain the substance and purpose of their document. We requested the opportunity to go through it and to give our point of view clearly and specifically at the next session as part of the discussions for the sake of the country’s future,” he said as he left the hall where the 22nd round of talks was held.

The dialogue, launched on February 10, has brought together delegates from an alliance of the opposition, an alliance of other political formations, independent parliamentarians and the government.

Each of the components is represented by eight delegates, but the government has three ministers.

The opposition has recently been pushing for dropping the eight parliamentarians, four from the lower chamber and four from the upper chamber, and replacing them by eight independent figures selected together by the two political alliances.

“The proposal for a fair representation seeks to rectify a situation that is unfair,” Jameel Kadhem, the spokesperson for the opposition, said. “We want to make sure that the platform for the dialogue is fair and correct and this cannot be achieved if there is no fair representation,” he said.

However, while Al Nuaimi expressed the government’s readiness to discuss the document, other participants charged that the opposition was attempting to stall the talks.

“The paper is ostensibly about a fair representation, but in fact it is meant to hamper the dialogue,” MP Lateefa Al Gaood said. “It is another issue in a series of issues they have raised, such as the representation of the country’s ruler and the referendum. They have been talking about the fair representation for the last seven rounds and procrastinating other issues,” Lateefa, the first woman to be elected to a parliament in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said. The lawmaker has attended all the sessions since the start of the talks.

“I asked the opposition how they would replace the eight parliamentarians, including the four elected by the people, and they told me that it would be through consensus. I would love to know what happens if there is no consensus,” she said.

The participants agreed to meet next Wednesday before going into a two-month recess.

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