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Bahrain national dialogue to resume on August 28

Independent MP says there’s consensus on need to move beyond sticking points

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s national dialogue is expected to resume on August 28 as was agreed before the talks went into recess ahead of Ramadan, the month of fasting, one of the participants has said.

“We had agreed on July 26 the last time we met to resume the dialogue on August 28, and so far there has been no contact to change the date,” Abdul Aziz Abul, one of the eight independent parliamentarians sitting at the table, said.

“Everybody feels that the dialogue needs to move forward and that the priority is to go beyond the stagnation point,” he said, quoted by local daily Al Bilad on Thursday.

Bahrain launched in July 2011 a national dialogue to help address deep political and social fissures caused by sharp divisions over the merit of the month-long events that unfolded in the country in February and March.

The meetings agreed on several recommendations, but the political issues lingered and a new call was issued by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to resume the talks. On February 10, the talks resumed with the participation of 27 delegates from two political alliances, the parliament and the government.

However, more than four months later, there was no agreement on the platform or the agenda of the talks.

“We need to address issues clearly and be very open about them. Stalling the sessions and repeating some points over and over again will not help with the dialogue,” said Abul, a rights activist who heads the Bahrain National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR).

The opposition has rejected the presence of the parliamentarians at the talks, suggesting replacing them with other people to be selected by the two political alliances.

However, the parliamentarians, four from each of the two cameras of the bicameral parliament, said that they had the right to be an active part of the dialogue. “People are not interested as much in who attends the talks as in concrete results for the sake of the country,” he said.