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Al Wefaq stalls over dialogue

OPPOSITION group Al Wefaq yesterday said that it was unlikely to take part in the National Dialogue.

It said that it would not submit its agenda for discussion in the dialogue, the deadline for which ends today.

"However, options are still open," Al Wefaq member and former MP Khalil Al Marzooq told a Press conference at the society in Zinj.

He said they believed that the current situation in the country was not suitable for a dialogue.

"The dialogue is for the interest of the country and its citizens but (the dialogue) is being done as there is lot of international pressure on Bahrain authorities for political reforms."

Mr Al Marzooq said that there were still "serious issues" that were not dealt with by the government before engaging in the dialogue.

"People are the source of authority. There can be no dialogue if no rulers are present. We definitely welcome the Crown Prince to oversee and negotiate the entire process."

Parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani was appointed by a royal order to lead the National Dialogue that starts from July 1.

Following his appointment, Mr Al Dhahrani said that the legislative authority would run and organise the dialogue, stressing that all issues would be discussed until a consensus is reached.

Mr Al Marzooq said that Al Wefaq had received an invitation from Mr Al Dhahrani to nominate five of its members for the dialogue.

"The present environment is not right for any dialogue. No- one can pressure us to sit on the table until there is a clear picture," he said.

Eighteen Al Wefaq MPs, including Mr Al Marzooq, resigned in February from their posts in protest against the way the government handled unrest.

Parliament discussed the resignations and initially accepted 11 in March and postponed the others until mid-May.

The seven other resignations were accepted after the MPs missed the deadline to return to parliament.

"There were several issues raised in parliament, but nothing materialised. Mr Al Dhahrani did not answer the real questions," said Mr Al Marzooq.

He said that Al Wefaq wanted serious dialogue that brings political reforms accepted by the majority of the people.

On Al Wefaq's main demands, Mr Al Marzooq said that the society's general-secretariat was holding a series of meetings to reach a consensus.

However, he said that the demands would more or less be the same that were presented in a draft to His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, in March.

These included political reforms, release of all "political prisoners", jobs, housing and for the government to be elected by the people.

The topics of discussion for the dialogue will be divided into four main areas that revolve around political, social, economic and human rights issues. The dialogue will be held at Isa Cultural Centre, Juffair

sandy@gdn.com.bh



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