Bahrain national talks at standstill

April 12, 2013

A national dialogue aiming to break a two-year political deadlock in Bahrain appeared at a standstill with two political coalitions pressing for the adoption of their views to be able to move on.

“The opposition coalition has turned down all the proposals to move the dialogue forward,” Ahmad Juma, the spokesperson for Al Fateh coalition, an umbrella for ten political societies, said. “We need to reinvigorate the dialogue, but the opposition continues to stall it by insisting on the representation of the ruler, even though we have already settled this issue,” he said at the end of the 11th round of talks.

The opposition has called for having a representative of the king at the talks to ensure its validity and the implementation of the outcome.

Eight delegates from each of the two political coalitions, eight independent parliamentarians and three government ministers are involved in the talks.

“We cannot engage ourselves in drawing up the agenda for the talks if we cannot decide on the presence of the ruler’s representative,” Abdul Nabi Salman, from the coalition of the opposition, said.

Statements by each side to the media following the round of talks at Al Areen in the deep south of Bahrain followed the same pattern of “we suggested, but they refused”.

The opposition said that it requested at the beginning of the round of talks the participants to mark a minute of silence in tribute to Mohammad Jaber Sabah Al Siyadi, a militant figure mainly in the 1950s and 1960s who died this week, but the request was turned down.

“We suggested holding a special session to build bridges of confidence,” Jameel Kadhim, the spokesperson for the coalition of the opposition, said. “We said that addressing specific issues in the country related to trials and reinstatement in jobs would help the dialogue move forward, but they refused,” he said.

Ahmad Juma, the spokesperson for Al Fateh coalition said that a suggestion to devote one of the two weekly meetings to issues where a common ground has been reached and the other to the pending issues was refused by the opposition.

“The opposition suggested that we limit our meetings to once a week instead of two, but we refused their proposal because it would prolong the talks.”

Accusations reportedly loomed large over the talks.

“The opposition wants to bring the talks to a frustrating standstill and then call for a role by international organisations to help break the deadlock,” Ahmad said. “We will never allow it because there can never be any foreigner in this talks. The dialogue is purely Bahraini.”

For the opposition, participants should refrain from making fiery accusatory statements.

“Some participants have accused us in their statements to the media of treason,” Jameel said. “We want that to be stopped. They can characterise our performance in the talks, but they cannot accuse us of treason.”



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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