King ‘stands equidistant from dialogue sides’

March 16, 2013

Participants at the national dialogue – BNA

Bahrain’s royal court has ruled out the participation of a representative of King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa at the national dialogue, saying that the monarch was for all and with all people and that he stood equidistant from all sides.

“HM the King views all participants in the dialogue as equals,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, the minister of the royal court, said. “HM sees them as citizens who are taking part in a patriotic act for the sake of their country. This means that no side at the dialogue represents HM the king against the other components. This is a fact that should not be disputed,” he said.

King Hamad stands equidistant from all participants and he is for all and with all, Shaikh Khalid said.

The talks were launched on February 10 to help put an end to a political deadlock that gripped the nation for almost two years.

A coalition of six opposition societies and a coalition of ten political societies are represented by 16 delegates, eight for each, at the talks. The parliament is represented by eight independent parliamentarians, four from each of the two chambers, and the government is represented by three ministers.

The 27 participants have so far held five rounds at the opulent Al Areen resort in the deep south of the country.

Shaikh Khalid’s clarification on Friday evening followed a controversy triggered by a demand by the coalition of six opposition societies to have a representative of the king at the national talks.

“We are requesting the presence of a representative of the king at the dialogue so that we can move forward,” the opposition said during the fourth round of the talks.

However, the other coalition as well as the parliamentarians and the ministers said that the presence of a representative of the king was not required.

They insisted that the agreements endorsed by the 27 participants during the second round of the talks specifically stipulated the presence of representatives from the government and not the king.

“We cannot go back on elements that have been discussed and endorsed,” Ahmad Juma, the spokesperson for the coalition of ten societies, said. “This will stall any possible progress of the talks.”

“The sides taking part in the dialogue represent a component of the political landscape in Bahrain, the legislative branch and the executive branch,” Shaikh Khalid said. “There is a need to stress that the ministers taking part in the dialogue stand on equal footing with the other participants and have the same rights and duties. The justice minister was tasked by HM the king to organize the dialogue and to refer the results endorsed by the participants to the king who will give instructions for their implementation through the existing constitutional institutions,” he said.

The next round of the talks is scheduled for Wednesday after the participants agreed to skip the Sunday session.

Under the dialogue format, the participants meet twice a week, every Sunday and Wednesday from 4 to 8pm and set their own agenda.

No time limit has been imposed or decided for the talks.



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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