Obama supports call for national dialogue in Bahrain

June 8, 2011

US President Barack Obama has reiterated support to a national dialogue in Bahrain, saying that that “both the opposition and the government must compromise to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.”

Obama, in a White House meeting with Crown Prince Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, expressed “strong support for the Crown Prince’s ongoing efforts to initiate the national dialogue,” the White House said.

“The President emphasised the importance of following through on the government’s commitment to ensuring that those responsible for human rights abuses will be held accountable.”

The move would “create the conditions for a successful dialogue,” it said.

Last month, the authorities in Bahrain said that they launched investigation into cases of alleged abuses, including one in which a journalist said that she had been beaten up during a questioning.

In its statement, the White House said that Obama had “a productive discussion” with Crown Prince Salman and “reaffirmed the strong commitment of the United States to Bahrain.”

The US President, who said that his country was a long-standing partner of Bahrain, welcomed King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa’s decision to end the State of National Safety early and the announcement that the national dialogue on reform would begin in July.

Bahrain imposed the emergency laws in March for three months to help address the political turmoil and security unrest that hit the country, but lifted them on June 1, two weeks ahead of schedule.

Last week, King Hamad called for holding a national dialogue in July and without preconditions that will help determine the future of the country.

The different aspects of the talks are not clear yet, but it will most likely involve the parliament and leading civil societies.

All registered political formations said that they endorsed the national dialogue.

Crown Prince Salman in February, three days into the crisis, offered a national dialogue “where no-one would be excluded and no subject be off the table.”

However, the opposition societies said they would not join in talks unless their conditions were met, a decision that stalled the dialogue, and prompted the US to send in Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, to help them appreciate the opportunity.

“There is a need for all parties to work immediately to begin a dialogue that answers the legitimate aspirations of the Bahraini people,” Feltman told reporters.

However, he said that dialogues required compromises. “Negotiations lead to certain results. We cannot start with results,” he said.

“The message is to encourage dialogue and not allow extremists to set the agenda. All sides have extremists and they must not impose the agenda,” he said.

However, the emergence in early March of radical groups who called for the toppling of the regime and setting up a republic did not allow room for a dialogue and the state of emergency was imposed.




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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