Bahrain dialogue to resume tomorrow

February 09, 2013 - 6:26:10 am

DUBAI: Bahrain’s national dialogue is set to resume tomorrow in an atmosphere of mutual mistrust between government and the opposition ahead of the second anniversary of a Shia-led uprising that shook the kingdom.

The opposition said on Wednesday that an agreement on the mechanism of its planned talks with around 27 representatives of pro-regime groups should be agreed in advance.

The dialogue, aimed at ending the kingdom’s political deadlock, comes amid daily opposition protests for the anniversary of the uprising on February 14, 2011. “The opposition groups are the only ones which have not yet submitted a list of their representatives,” government spokeswoman Samira Rajab said.

She accused the opposition of being “linked to foreign agendas” and of “stalling” the talks, insisting that the government had responded “very clearly” to their concerns.

The government accuses Shia-dominated Iran of backing the opposition in Shia-majority Bahrain. The opposition denies the allegation.

Six opposition groups led by Al Wefaq had said they wanted clarifications on the mechanisms of the talks, asking for an agenda, timeframe and a high level of government representation.

The opposition has repeatedly said it is ready for meaningful talks, but has stuck to its demands for a real constitutional monarchy with an elected premier.

Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s major Shia opposition bloc which withdrew from a similar round of talks in July 2011, said in December it was ready for new dialogue. “We are ready for serious talks that could take the country out of its crisis, but not a dialogue that would only waste time,” said Khalil Marzooq, a leading Al Wefaq figure.

He accused the government of trying to embarrass the opposition by claiming it rejects talks.

“We want a specific agenda and new mechanisms different from those which have led to the failure of talks in the past,” said Marzooq.