Crown Prince Salman receiving figures from the opposition Image Credit: BNA

Manama: Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa has met the heads of all major political societies in Bahrain to discuss the resumption of the National Dialogue, following the recent postponement of the talks.

“Under instructions from His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, today met the parties participating in the National Dialogue to discuss ways of overcoming the recent challenges to the sessions,” Sameera Rajab, the Spokesperson for the Government, said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

“The participants agreed to start a new phase of the dialogue based on interaction and convergence of views among all parties, commitment to the principles of responsibility, seriousness, transparency and credibility and to raising the nation’s best interests above all other considerations,” she added.

The participants also agreed to raise the level of representation of the government and all the parties taking part in the dialogue and bring forward the main items to be discussed during the next phase, namely the legislative branch, the judiciary branch, the executive branch, electoral constituencies and security for all, the Spokesperson said.

“The Royal Court, starting next week, will arrange bilateral meetings with the participants to ensure the presentation of a sound vision by each party and in line with the genuine royal resolve to achieve the reconciliation of society and the preservation of its unity,” she said.

Earlier, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported that Crown Prince Salman, “along with the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament, the President of the Shura Council, the upper chamber, the minister of the Royal Court and the minister of interior held meetings with the leaders and representatives of the National Unity Gathering, the Coalition of National Political Societies, Al Wefaq and independent MPs.”

“His Royal Highness discussed means to overcome the obstacles to dialogue and highlighted the need for renewed urgency in the process,” BNA said. “He stressed the importance of senior representation from all sides, emphasising the importance of an improved and open political environment that can clearly and positively address national priorities shared by all Bahrainis as well as accounting for the concerns held by different communities.”

“Over a decade ago His Majesty the King recognised the importance of a process of inclusive political development,” Prince Salman said following the meetings. “We remain firmly committed to stable political development, one that is representative of all sides and thereby acts definitively in the national interest.”

The meetings concluded with a commitment from all parties to accelerate dialogue and elevate discussions by including more senior representation from all parties, BNA said. “Importantly, a broad framework of core topics for the dialogue was also agreed, with talks expected to resume next week with a further series of official bilateral discussions with key parties.”

The latest round of the National Dialogue was launched on February 10 to address political issues that had not been included in the earlier rounds held in July 2011 in a bid to address social and political wounds resulting from the dramatic events that occurred in February.

Almost 300 people representing the parliament, political societies, NGOs, the media, the government, labour unions, and women’s rights groups took part in the sessions and agreed on a series of recommendations that included amendments to the constitution that gave more powers to the elected chamber.

At the current talks, 27 participants representing a coalition of opposition societies, a coalition of other political societies, the parliament and the government held a series of rounds, but sharp disagreements over the platform and the outcome of the dialogue have stalled it for weeks.

The dialogue was eventually suspended after the opposition froze its participation in September and the other parties decided in January to suspend the talks.