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Political societies, US welcome Bahrain king’s dialogue call

Opposition insists on pre-talks agreements, timeframe

Image Credit: Reuters
King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa attends Arab summit in Riyadh January 21, 2013. Sheikh Hamad has extended an invitation for dialogue to the country's political parties.
Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s political societies have welcomed a call by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to restart a national dialogue to address political issues and help end a deadlock that has gripped the nation for months.

The US, a major political, economic and military ally, has also welcomed the call and expressed hope of a wide participation. “The United States welcomes His Majesty King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa’s call to launch an inclusive, comprehensive political dialogue in Bahrain,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesperson, said. “We are encouraged by the positive responses thus far from some of Bahrain’s political groups. We call on all sides to participate fully and to engage constructively in an effort to produce a way ahead that responds to the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis,” she said.

In Manama, six opposition societies said they welcomed the dialogue and looked forward to “a comprehensive and just political solution that will achieve durable stability and tranquillity.”

In a statement released hours after the justice minister said — based upon directives from King Hamad — he would invite political formations and independent political figures to a dialogue, Al Wefaq, the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), the Unionist Democratic National Rally Society, the Democratic Nationalist Rally Society, the Progressive Democratic Tribune and the National Fraternity Society said they were “serious in engaging in a political dialogue and negotiations that would fulfil the aspirations of the Bahraini people for freedom, dignity and justice.”

However, the societies said there should be an agreement on the participants in the dialogue, the agenda and timeframe of the talks, a procedure to endorse the recommendations and a timeframe for their applications.

The National Unity Assembly (NUA) said that it welcomed the call for dialogue and that it would announce its position “soon.”

“We will take part because we simply cannot leave the field for those who do not recognise all segments of the Bahraini society and claim that they are the people of Bahrain,” said Abdul Latif Al Mahmoud, the NUA chairman.

The NUA, which emerged in late February 2011 as a counterweight to political societies that called for profound political and constitutional changes in Bahrain, has repeatedly insisted that no dialogue could be acceptable if it wasn’t included as it is one of the largest societies in Bahrain.

The society had earlier said that street violence should be stopped before a “genuine dialogue” could take place.

The Shura Council, the upper chamber of the bicameral parliament, joined the lower chamber in welcoming the national dialogue and in urging all political societies to take an active part without preconditions.