Ali Alaswad, resigned Bahraini MP from Al Wefaq, today described the talks between opposition parties and the Minister of Justice, Sheikh Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa, as being “nothing more than a show”.
It has been reported that over the past 2 days the Minister has arranged separate meetings with opposition parties, with the main purpose of convincing them to condemn violence from protesters.
Ali Alaswad said, “We have a responsibility to respond positively to any approaches from the Government, but it became very clear very quickly that this was no serious attempt at moving the country forward and out of the current crisis.”
He added, “We will walk through any doors that are opened but cannot let any door close behind us. Our priority is to improve Bahrain, not to strengthen our hand or the Government.”
“In order for a meaningful dialogue, as Obama called for last year, to take place there needs to be a clear timeline and agenda on the discussions. No such commitment has come from the Government and therefore we can only assume that this was nothing more than an attempt to pretend to the world that the Government is talking with the opposition.” Said the MP who resigned in February 2011, in protest at the treatment of pro-democracy demonstrators.
Adding, “We know that the Government has come under pressure from the international community to meet with the opposition and we believe this latest meeting to be a cosmetic tactic to appease the international community, without doing anything. We hope that foreign governments will note this and realize that this step from the Minister is not inline with their hopes for Bahrain.”
Although Bahrain’s Crown Prince has spoken recently about reconciliation he seems to be well removed from this current initiative and it is unclear where the mandate for the Minister to meet with the opposition came from, with some suggesting it was the Royal Court Minister, rather than the King.
The Royal Court Minister had been involved in a previous attempt at dialogue with the opposition at the beginning of the year, before the Bahrain Grand Prix, but that seemed to have failed.
According to Ali Alaswad the latest meeting is even less promising than the discussions with the Royal Court Minister.
“This is even less useful than what we experienced for. We have experience of the national consensus dialogue, the meetings with the Royal Court Minister and sadly this is as bad if not worse. Until the question of an elected government and transition to democracy is brought up the people will simply not be satisfied. The people of Bahrain are looking for a constitutional monarchy, not an absolute monarchy, and any attempts to mislead the international community and co-opt the opposition will fail. We have sacrificed too much to turn back now.”