The chances of a political dialogue to resolve the ongoing uprising in Bahrain may have increased with a royal directive from the King for the national consensus talks to continue, that ended in July 2011 without conclusion.
The first statement came from the Minister of Justice, who is said to be the one leading the talks with political societies. This was closely followed by a statement from Samira Rajab, Minister of State for Information Affairs, in which she confirmed the royal directive to resume the national consensus talks. The call has received backing from the parliament of Bahrain as well as the Shura Council.
Bahrain’s opposition societies have been supporting the idea of political dialogue for many months and in a statement “affirmed their Readiness for a Serious Dialogue that Achieves the Legitimate Demand”.
Their statement said, “The opposition hopes that this invitation for dialogue is an honest and serious one, unlike previous invitations. However, the opposition will not prejudge this dialogue before it starts, yet, it stresses that any real and serious dialogue must include consensus on the dialogue’s participants, agendas, decision-making mechanism as well as a specified timeline as to its start and end.”
Despite this, there has been no formal outlining of what form this dialogue will come in or what exactly it will discuss. Samira Rajab said in her statement, “The multilateral dialogue will focus on the political topic, which is yet to be finalised”.
The BBC spoke to leading member of Al Wefaq Khalil Almarzooq. It said, “Mr Marzook warned that if what he described as “the seasonal call for dialogue” was a ruse to discourage protests ahead of the 14 February anniversary it would serve to “deepen distrust between the people and the government.”
It seems there is some way to go before this is realised into a real dialogue, but for many this could be positive first steps towards political reform.