Opposition in Bahrain urges gov’t for dialogue
MANAMA - Agence France-Presse
An anti-government protester throws stones towards riot police during clashes at a roundabout where an anti-government protesters staged a sit-in in Manama. REUTERS photoBahrain opposition groups have urged the government to embark on “serious” dialogue to end the Gulf kingdom’s crisis, condemning a harsh crackdown on sporadic but defiant Shiite protests.
In a statement late Dec. 18 five opposition groups, led by the main Shiite formation, Al-Wefaq, said the regime of the Sunni-led government should launch political reforms to get the small nation out of political deadlock following the harsh clampdown in March on a month-long pro-democracy protest. The groups said they were in favors of “opening a serious dialogue with the regime to exit the current political crisis that is inflicting heavy losses on the country and people.” Following a meeting Dec. 18, they said the dialogue should be focused on “implementing drastic and comprehensive political and constitutional reforms,” dismissing the outcome of a national dialogue called for by King Hamad which they said excluded the opposition. “It is not acceptable to talk about the outcome of the so-called ‘national dialogue’ as a suitable foundation for the wanted reforms because it is void of any real constitutional and political reforms” the statement said.
The groups include the Arab nationalist and leftist Waed party, whose Sunni leader Ibrahim Sharif remains in prison since the crackdown on protests. The crackdown comes after Bahrain’s government promised reforms following the publication last month of a highly critical report of abuses by the security forces during the protests in February and March.