Five upper house members withdraw resignations

March 24, 2011

Bahrain’s upper house said that five members have withdrawn their resignations.

“The upper chamber has agreed to cancel the resignations submitted by Habib Makki Hashem, Mohammad Hassan Al Shaikh Mansoor Al Sitri, Mohammad Hassan Baqer Radhi, Mohammad Hadi Ahmad Al Halwachi and Dr Nasser Hameed Al Mubarak,” the chamber said in a statement.

The decision was taken by the chamber’s bureau at a special meeting.

Several members of chamber, all Shiites, resigned last week reportedly to protest against the government’s attitude towards the protests, but no official list was announced.

Last month, the 18 members representing Al Wefaq in the lower chamber resigned after protesters were killed in the early stage of the month-long unrest that hit Bahrain.

However, their resignation has not been endorsed by the remaining members of the 40-seat chamber, keeping them as de facto lawmakers.

The chamber initially said that it would look into the resignations in two months, but under pressure from their supporters, two parliamentary blocs pushed for a final decision this week instead.

However, the resignation issue was not placed on the agenda of the session on Tuesday, prompting Al Asala and the Independents to boycott it. An extraordinary session has been scheduled for Thursday.

Abdul Lateef Al Mahmoud, the head of the National Unity Rally, has warned against accepting the resignations of Al Wefaq MPs.

“Accepting the resignations will stall the reforms,” he said. “There is no way to hold partial elections under the State of National Safety, and in fact holding them defeats their legitimacy and purpose. We do support endorsing the resignation of upper chamber members because they were appointed, but not those of lawmakers elected by the people,” he said on Wednesday.

In Brussels, a European Union official said that the EU could play the role of a facilitator in the launching of a dialogue between the government and protesters.

Hugues Mingarelli, Managing Director for the Middle East in the EU external service, told the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels on Tuesday evening that they the union would assume the role “if the authorities in Bahrain wish it”, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.

Mingarelli and Robert Cooper, who was dispatched by Ashton earlier this week to Manama, spoke to the Committee on the situation in Bahrain.

Both of them welcomed the crown prince’s offer for dialogue without pre conditions. Responding to questions by some Members of the European Union on the dispatch of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces to Bahrain, Mingarelli said that they had been “invited within the framework of the agreement between the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.”

“There is an article stipulating that all the states must show solidarity. If any of them is in danger, the others are in danger too and therefore they have to intervene … It is the equivalent of the article 5 of Nato,” he said, quoted by KUNA.

Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for foreign and security policy, said that Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa “appears to have put forward an interesting proposal for a dialogue to start without preconditions”.

Answering questions by MEPs on the Iranian influence in Bahrain, Ashton said there was a need for balance.

“On the one hand, I do not want to see that as a reason for the Bahraini government to fail to engage with the protestors. On the other hand, certainly the Americans believe there is quite a bit of reason to be nervous about that. So we have to balance it,” she was quoted as saying.

Ashton said that she finds the idea of forming a new strategy with the GCC interesting and will discuss it in the next meeting with the GCC.

“Designing a strategy for the Gulf states is very interesting. I think the next meeting with the GCC shortly will be an opportunity to talk with them,” Ashton said.

The next EU-GCC ministerial meeting is expected to be held on April 20.

In her speech to the Committee, Ashton rejected criticism that the EU had been slow to respond to the crises in the region.

“Sometimes, we do lag behind and it can be difficult to keep up with events, but we have not been lagging behind at all in this case of Libya.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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