15 MAY 2014 REGION King Hamad receiving Patterson. Photo Courtesy: BNA

Manama: US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson has encouraged all sides in Bahrain to condemn acts of violence.

“Patterson has encouraged all sides to participate in upcoming parliamentary elections, condemn acts of violence and incitement, and to contribute to a climate conducive for reconciliation,” a statement issued by the US embassy in the Bahraini capital Manama late on Wednesday said.

Bahrain has been rocked by acts of violence for years following the dramatic events that hit the island country in February and March 2011.

A national dialogue that brought all sides — political societies, the parliament and the government — together to agree on ways ahead for the country could not even agree on an agenda for the talks before the process was brought to a halt following what seemed as “irreconcilable differences”.

A new round of the national dialogue under a new format is being prepared after all sides were asked to forward their views to the Royal Court.

Patterson, at the end of her two day-visit to Bahrain, underscored US encouragement of reform and reconciliation through the ongoing National Dialogue, the statement said. She also commended King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa for supporting a National Dialogue process and wished them success in their efforts.

“This was my first visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain,” Patterson said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and importance to our two countries. Bahrain has been an important partner and friend of the United States for many years and we remain committed to this country’s security and success.”

During her visit, Patterson met senior Bahraini Government officials, as well as business and political leaders, the statement said.

Bahrain is expected to hold parliamentary elections in autumn, the fourth in the country since 2002 when a new constitution was promulgated. Elections were subsequently held in 2006 and 2010. By-elections were held in 2011 after 18 lawmakers who represented Al Wefaq society pulled out of the parliament and had to be replaced.

A poll published in a local daily on Thursday indicated that 42 per cent of the incumbent 40 lawmakers wanted to run in the next elections while 50 per cent have not yet decided on whether to seek re-election.

Three of the four women MPs said they wanted to run again while one said that she needed more time to ponder her options.