Bahrain: King Hamad stresses stability, national unity
King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on Wednesday said that national unity and agreements were fundamental for Bahrain’s stability.
“They are a fundamental pillar of stability that lead to further development and reforms,” King Hamad said in his address as he opened the fourth session of the National Council (parliament) in the capital Manama.
“Bahrain will remain Arab and Muslim for one generation after the other. Its approach has been and will remain for a long time based on tolerance and co-existence between all sects. Such an attitude has been deeply ingrained in our daily lives and has been emphasised in our Constitution and laws. The principle of dialogue for the sake of a national agreement will always remain with us,” he said.
A national dialogue was launched in July 2011 to help the country overcome a political and social rift resulting from the dramatic events that occurred in February and March that year.
A series of recommendations were issued by the participants who represented NGOs, women’s groups, the parliament, the government, the trade union and the media, and included several reforms of the constitution to boost popular participation and better criteria for the selection of Shura Council members. The recommendations were implemented, giving more power to the elected chamber of the bicameral parliament.
The second part of the national dialogue, related to politics, was launched upon directives from King Hamad on February 10 with 27 delegates representing an alliance of opposition societies, another alliance of political societies, the two chambers of the parliament and the government.
Even though the participants have yet to agree on the agenda and final platform for the talks, there has been tremendous national and international support.
“Praise be to God for blessing Bahrain with dedicated men and women who do appreciate the monumental positive transformations in our country and for blessing us with a patriotic determination that secured an emphatic victory over those who sought to target our values, national unity and security,” he said.
The king praised the parliament’s “patriotic stance against terrorism, extremism and their instigators” and their “refusal of any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain”.
“As our national dialogue continues, your honourable legislative council will remain the cornerstone of our reforms. We do confirm our keenness on the continuation of the dialogue between all parties. Bahrain is for everyone, and our national issues can be addressed only through a balanced dialogue based on national responsibility.”
The bicameral parliament was one of the major constitutional reforms launched by King Hamad on assuming power in 1999 following the death of his father. A parliament was elected in 2002 following almost 30 years of constitutional hiatus. Elections were also held in 2006 and 2010.
Referring to international developments, King Hamad said that Bahrain looked forward to a stable, secure, safe and contented Arab and Islamic world.
“We pray to God to protect all of us from extremism and terrorism,” he said. “We should not overlook in the midst of the events unfolding in the Arab and Islamic nation our first and most important issue and that is Palestine and the suffering of its people. We stress our support to the Palestinian people and their legitimate demands. We also support efforts to reach a just and comprehensive lasting peace with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in [Al] Quds, as per the relevant international legitimate resolutions and the Arab peace initiative,” he said.