Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat—Bahrain’s National Consensus Dialogue is set to resume after a two-month break.
In a press conference held in Manama on Tuesday, Bahraini political opposition societies announced that they would return to the dialogue process, and announced a six-point initiative aimed at ending the political discord in the country, releasing prisoners and fulfilling international commitments.
The opposition initiative also called for an end to acts of incitement the opposition alleged were published by Bahrain’s official media.
The opposition emphasized its commitment to dialogue as the only viable tool for ending the state of polarization in the country.
The dialogue will be held by three ministers representing the government, eight independent MPs and figures from the legislative authority, eight representatives of the coalition of political associations, and eight members of the political opposition societies.
State minister of media affairs Samira Rajab said that Bahrain is a free country and the constitution guarantees freedom for all citizens.
Rajab denied claims of “media incitement” on the part of the government, saying instead that the Kingdom of Bahrain only defended itself in the face of media fabrications.
The Bahraini minister said that the dialogue should have a clear and agreed-upon agenda and that any other requirements would be considered attempts to delay and undermine the dialogue process.
Sawsan Taqwa, an MP and a representative of the legislative authority in the dialogue, said that returning to the negotiating table boosted chances of the country’s political players reaching a national consensus.
Following 25 sessions, the participants have to date failed to achieve consensus on any significant issues apart from the points on the mechanism of dialogue.
Taqwa stressed the need to avoid dragging the dialogue into arguing about issues relating to procedures that have already been discussed.
The Bahraini MP said that such efforts stem from the desire to procrastinate rather than reach serious agreements.
She added that such acts will waste more time rather than resolve the growing tensions or combat acts of sabotage.
Another member of the dialogue process, Majid Ali Al Naimi, who represents the government in the forthcoming talks said: “Dialogue is the only option for Bahrain and Bahrainis.”