Bahrain’s Opposition Says Dialogue Should Not Exceed 3 Weeks

Manama, March 3 (Xinhua) — Bahrain’s opposition groups on March 3 officially announced that they will not engage in a dialogue until the government is dissolved, further escalating tensions of civil unrest in the tiny kingdom.

Six political societies leading the national dialogue held a press conference where leaders of the party said they would not jump into a dialogue “until there was an indication that the government would resign first and then officials sit on negotiation table.”

The societies set a timeframe for the dialogue which they said should not exceed three weeks and until then protesters will stage demonstrations across the kingdom.

“In six years the government naturalized 60,000 individuals to change the demography of the Kingdom. The government should resign and there should be transparency in royal wealth,” Shaikh Ali Salman, the leader of Al Wefaq bloc, the main Shiite party, said during the meeting.

The six societies are Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, Democratic Progressive Tribune, Al Ekha National Society, National Democratic Assemblage, Islamic Action Society (Al Amal) and National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad). The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions is also partnered with the above societies to unite as a strong lobby group.

The demands by the seven societies include dissolving the government, establishing a constitutional monarchy, release of remaining political prisoners, independent commission of inquiry in the killing of seven men (during clashes with police since Feb. 14) and a neutral state media which can represent all sections of the society.

Shaikh Ali said during the meet held at Wa’ad headquarters in Umm-Al-Hassam that there was no scope for dialogue under present circumstances. He urged that GCC countries should not fund the current Bahrain government to tackle unrest and help it recover economically.

“They should wait for the newly elected government to utilize these funds,” the cleric said. Shailkh Ali was referring to a Marshall style plan announced during the Gulf Summit that would help Bahrain and Oman. The fund will be used to improve living conditions, provide housing, generate jobs for the unemployed among other social reforms.

A total of 18 Al Wefaq parliament members submitted their resignation last week and vowed not to resume their duties until the demand of anti-government protesters gathered at Pearl Roundabout is not considered.

On Thursday, scores of students protested outside the Education Ministry and Information Affairs Authority demanding the government to step down. They were later joined by teachers from public schools. Protesters have started to move from the roundabout and marched in numbers near key landmarks, commercial districts and government buildings.

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa urged opposition groups to launch talks immediately to control the situation of waves of anti-government protests calling for political reforms.

“Some continue to seek to block reform and such disruption only harms the interests of the people of Bahrain,” Prince Saman said in a statement to state-run Bahrain news Agency. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa last month sacked four ministers namely – cabinet affairs, housing, health and electricity and water authority.

Bahrain, a close U.S. ally, is home to its Navy’s Fifth Fleet.


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