Liberal societies remain engaged in national dialogue
The pullout of Al Wefaq Islamic Society, Bahrain’s largest opposition group, from the national dialogue was not followed by its former allies who said that they would continue to attend the talks.
“We are engaged in the national dialogue because we believe that all components of the society have the right to contribute to drawing up the political, social and economic future of the country,” a statement from the National Democratic Action Society “Waad”, the Democratic Tribune and the Pan-Arab Rally said. The societies formed with Al Wefaq and three other formations an alliance in the early stages of the protests.
“We had reservations about the procedures and which we expressed in formal letters to the head of the national dialogue. We had concerns that they would not allow a smooth process of serious talks between the various segments, especially the political theme. However, our societies have agreed to be actively involved in the talks and contribute to their success,” the three liberal societies said.
King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa called for the talks to help heal deep wounds caused by Bahrain’s worst social crisis in modern history.
Around 300 Bahrainis were invited to the talks, representing political societies, NGOs, the media, the parliament, the government, the business community, trade union, women’s rights groups and municipal councils.
Al Wefaq on Sunday said that was formally leaving the talks, citing under-representation and inability to influence the dialogue.
The society has claimed that its status should have allowed it to have more than five delegates, the quota set for all political societies.
Al Wefaq also complained that the talks format did not foster an appropriate dialogue that addressed genuine issues. Insiders said that the society was keen on a direct dialogue with Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Al Asala, the exclusive expression of Salafism in Bahrain, warned the government against “caving in to the blackmail of Al Wefaq or striking a deal with the society in rooms behind closed doors.”
In a scathing statement, Al Asala said that any side agreements with Al Wefaq “would be a threat to national security and would take lightly the people of Bahrain and the participants in the national dialogue.”
Several politicians have expressed concern about a possible deal between the authorities and the opposition that would leave out the other political formations.
“We urge HM the King to implement the recommendations of the dialogue, regardless of any other consideration,” the society said. “We all knew that Al Wefaq would withdraw from the talks. Al Wefaq never believed in the spirit of the national talks and it pulled out two days after Ahmad Jannati, Secretary of the Council of Guardians, criticised the national dialogue in Bahrain.”