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Bahrain National Commission chief's resignation a setback

Ali Saleh Al Saleh writes public letter to king requesting to be relieved as head of the commission

Gulf News

Manama: An opposition figure has called for rejecting the resignation submitted by the head of the National Commission over perceived attacks on his integrity.

Ali Saleh Al Saleh on Saturday wrote a public letter to King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa requesting to be relieved as head of the commission set up to oversee the implementation of recommendations presented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in November.

Al Saleh, who held the portfolios of commerce, industry and municipal affairs and agriculture and was appointed chairman of the Shura Council, the upper chamber of the bicameral parliament, attributed his request to the attacks by some people on his character, integrity and honesty.

The attacks seemed to be motivated by the reinstatement of four dismissed employees in the Shura Council.

However, Hassan Madan, the head of the Democratic Tribune society and member of the National Commission, warned that Al Saleh's resignation would be a setback to the work of the 19-member body.

"His resignation would be an enormous challenge to the commission and, particularly to the idea o national reconciliation," he said. "Al Saleh was chosen as the commission head based on his credibility, moderation and integrity. He has been known for these attributes since he became engaged in parliamentary and political activities decades ago," Madan said.

Such qualities are seriously needed by Bahrain at a critical time of its history as it confronts deep tensions enveloping the country, he said.

"There are high hopes that the National Commission, led by Al Saleh and comprising members keen on the higher interests of the nation, will help the country move forward. Al Saleh has shown deep interest in implementing the recommendations within a humanitarian spirit, especially those related to reinstating dismissed employees to allow them to care for themselves and their families," he said.

However, the attacks on Al Saleh are stalling efforts to fulfill the objectives of the commission, Hassan warned.

"We are confident that the king will exert all efforts to ensure that Al Saleh reverses his decision to quit and that the commission will be able to move forward with the text and spirit of the recommendations."

The formation of the National Commission was among the recommendations presented by the BICI formed by King Hamad in June to look into the dramatic events that unfolded in Bahrain in February and March and their consequences.

The BICI spent four months investigating the sources and consequences of the incidents and released on November 23 a searing report that put to task the government and the opposition and offered a flurry of recommendations to help heal the rift that has fractured the society politically, socially and economically.

In his resignation letter, Al Saleh requested the formation of a committee to investigate his activities since he was elected member to the 1973 parliament until he was appointed head of the Shura Council.

"I am ready to reveal my accounts and those of my family and I will assume the responsibility of any abuses or irregularities, no matter how slight they are, if they are found," he said.

"I have devoted long years of my life in the service of this beloved land and my national contributions are my most treasured possession and my best legacy to history. I might have done most things right and some things wrong, I might have succeeded in most of what I did and failed in some of it, but I do not regret what I have done and I have never requested anything for me or for my family. I have not done anything that would make my heart and conscience heavy. However, I had the shock of my life and was really stunned by accusations against my integrity and I feel that I can no longer shoulder the responsibility of heading the National Commission," Al Saleh said.