News / Middle East

    Bahrain's Main Shi'ite Party Quits Government-Led Reform Dialogue

    Wefaq spokesman Khalil al-Marzooq (file photo)
    Wefaq spokesman Khalil al-Marzooq (file photo)

    Bahrain's main Shi'ite opposition party says it is pulling out of a national dialogue with the Gulf state's minority Sunni rulers, accusing them of not being serious about political reforms.

    Wefaq spokesman Khalil al-Marzooq said Sunday the party's top leaders agreed to quit the talks that started on July 2 and will submit the decision to a party council for ratification.

    Marzooq says Wefaq delegates at the talks tried to present serious political solutions to Bahrain's recent unrest, but were ignored by the government. Wefaq also had complained that opposition parties were under-represented in the dialogue, receiving only about 35 of the 300 seats allocated by the government.

    Wefaq had five delegates in the talks. It won 18 of the 40 seats in Bahrain's lower house of parliament in a 2010 election, but all of the party's lawmakers resigned earlier this year, protesting the government's violent suppression of an opposition protest movement.

    Bahrain's majority Shi'ites led the mass protests, which began in February and ended the following month in a crackdown by government troops and allied military units from neighboring Gulf states. At least 30 people were killed in the unrest, including several policemen.

    Some of the protesters wanted Bahrain's ruling al-Khalifa family to grant majority Shi'ites a greater role in a constitutional monarchy, while others called for the ouster of the Sunni dynasty.

    Bahrain's government had no immediate comment on Wefaq's departure from the dialogue. The monarchy previously said it wanted the talks to include all Bahrainis, whether they were involved in politics or not.

    The United States has expressed support for the dialogue in Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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