Bahrain Opens National Dialogue

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King Hamad starts the National Dialogue process; with the opposition group al-Wefaq agreeing to join the negotiation that starts today.

The national dialogue was initiated to repair the dinge image it had created following the crackdown and arrest and trial of opposition figures. Last month, Bahrain had awarded life time imprisonment of eight high-profile political activists for plotting to overthrow the monarchy. Two men had received the death penalty for allegedly killing two policeman during the unrest.

The focus of the dialogue will be on the violent crackdown initiated against the protestors early this year.

Representatives

Al Wefaq perceive the national dialogue a sham. Their view is that the participants are under-represented with al-Wefaq has just five people in the list. Out of the 300 people the government invited for talks, only about 50 are from the formal political opposition, while the remaining is made up of pro-government civil and political societies and business leaders.

No one from the ruling al-Khalifa family will be present. The speaker of the parliament will preside over, who is chosen by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa from a broad range of civil society.

Al-Wafeq has also warned the government that they will withdraw support if its core demands are not met.

Opening ceremony

Parliament Speaker and Chairman of the Bahrain National Dialogue, Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Dhahrani, will inaugurate the dialogue with a speech. A briefing on accord and principles of dialogue will be made, after which the modus operandi of Interlocutors and executive mechanism of the dialogue would be presented.

Recently, al Wefaq has been under pressure to join the talks from other formal political opposition groups, who believe that the dialogue would be pointless without the largest Shiite bloc, which has over 60% of votes in last year’s national election.

Many local and international organizations are keenly following up the dialogue process due to its importance in terms of regional developments.

Source: Khaleej Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN

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