epa04496373 Bahrain Minister of State for Information Affairs and the government spokesperson, Samira bin Rajab (C) speaks to reporters during the opening of the elections media center in Manama, Bahrain, 20 November 2014. Bahrain Minister of State for Information Affairs and the government spokesperson, Samira bin Rajab, said that all preparations for the elections had been completed and that the opposition boycott would not affect the elections. Bahrain is set to hold its parliamentary and municipal elections on 22 November as leading opposition groups say they will be boycotting the elections demanding further democratic reforms and release of prisoners as condition to participate. Image Credit: EPA

Manama: Bahrain’s government is open to dialogue with the Shiite-led opposition despite its boycott of elections this weekend, a cabinet minister said on Friday.

But Information Minister Samira Rajab said that authorities in the country rejected “chaos” and “foreign” interference, particularly from Iran.

“The door to dialogue will never be shut, including with Al Wefaq,” she said in an interview, referring to the main Shiite opposition movement.

Al Wefaq and four other opposition groups are boycotting Saturday’s legislative and municipal polls in Bahrain.

The opposition wants a “real” constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister independent from the ruling Al Khalifa family.

But the government has rejected the demand.

Nearly four years ago the Shiite opposition led a month-long uprising calling for democratic reforms, but the protest movement was quelled by the authorities in March 2011.

Demonstrators still frequently clash with security forces in villages outside the capital Manama, although hundreds have been arrested and faced trial after the uprising.

Al Wefaq was in October banned by a Bahraini court from carrying out any activities for three months for violating the law on associations.

The movement had earlier engaged in several rounds of talks with the authorities but refused to resume discussions in September despite a new proposal announced by Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

The proposal had five core elements, including the redefinition of electoral districts and permission for parliament to question the premier and his ministers.

The security forces, blamed for the deaths of dozens of protesters, would also be bound by new codes of conduct.

Al Wefaq head Shaikh Ali Salman said at the time that the proposal “ignores the legitimate demands of the people”.

Samira insisted on Friday that the authorities would not tolerate “chaos”.

“Violence is not allowed. It is tantamount to terrorism.”

She also denounced “foreign interference”, saying it fanned tensions and stood in the way of an agreement between the Bahraini opposition and the government.

She pointed to Tehran and said “Iran is a neighbour which whom we wish to have good relations”.

Bahrain has repeatedly accused Iran, which lies just across the Gulf, of backing the Shiite opposition.