News / Middle East

Bahrain Dialogue Receives Mixed Reaction

Isa Abdul Rahman, spokesperson for Bahrain's National Dialogue Committee, speaks during a news conference held after the inauguration of the national dialogue, in Manama, Bahtain, July 2, 2011
Isa Abdul Rahman, spokesperson for Bahrain's National Dialogue Committee, speaks during a news conference held after the inauguration of the national dialogue, in Manama, Bahtain, July 2, 2011

Bahrain’s Sunni rulers are sitting down this week with opposition leaders for the first time since anti-government protests brought the country to a standstill earlier this year. The talks are dealing with political, economic and social issues that have been plaguing the Persian Gulf kingdom.

The main opposition al-Wefaq party has confirmed that it is taking part in the national dialogue, after some reluctance to join.

Eighteen members of the bloc quit parliament in February following a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. The group has been one of the most vocal critics of the government’s handling of the recent unrest.

Optimism on agreement

National dialogue spokesman, Eisa Abdul Rahman, said al-Wefaq’s participation is a strong sign that a lasting agreement can be worked out.

"We are optimistic that there will be a middle ground and I think by considering the consensus mechanism, that is a signal by itself that we are aiming to move forward as one nation between all the various political parties and all the various interests," said Rahman.

Protests organized by Bahrain’s majority Shi’ite Muslims began in mid-February, following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. The Shi’ites say they are treated like second-class citizens and are not given the same benefits as the ruling Sunni minority.

Their main demands have been for a new constitution, a more representative government, the release of political prisoners, an end to discrimination and an end to the naturalization of foreign citizens.

National dialogue meeting

It is believed these concerns will be highlighted during the national dialogue meetings, which are scheduled to take place three times a week. The talks are expected to last about a month, but Rahman said no end date has been set.

"We’re not going to have a predefined time frame for the dialogue. We don’t want to pressurize the participants and we don’t want time to work against us," said Rahman. "We want them to feel comfortable in discussing all the issues and reach consensus at their own pace."

The international community has widely welcomed Bahrain’s reconciliation talks. On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced his support and urged Bahraini authorities to “take further steps” to observe international human rights obligations.

But doubts have also been voiced.

Some skepticism expressed

Jalal Fairooz, one of the 18 al-Wefaq members who quit parliament in February, said the talks are unlikely to result in the significant change needed to satisfy the opposition.

"The solution is in the hands of the king and the royal family; it’s not in the hands of this dialogue," said Fairooz. "This is only a chitchat room, because in the end, all of the points raised will be put forward to the king. The king will decide what he can approve and not approve, and that’s the greatest weakness of this chatting dialogue."

Bahraini authorities say 24 people were killed during opposition protests in February and March. International rights groups say the number is closer to 30.

On Wednesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch accused Bahrain of carrying out a continued “campaign of violent oppression” against opposition supporters and called for an end to abuses.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid