Talks between the Shia Oppostion and Bahrain’s Al Khalifa Monarchy begins amid crackdowns

JNN 02 July 2011 Manama : Bahraini rulers have started negotiations with the country’s opposition leaders amid the continuing harsh crackdowns on anti-regime demonstrations.

Bahrain’s biggest opposition party, al-Wefaq, decided at the last minute to join the government-led “national dialogue” in the Bahraini capital, Manama, on Saturday, AFP reported.

The group says it will withdraw from the dialogue if the people’s demands are not met by the government.

“We do not intend to sabotage the dialogue but we do intend to bring to it the demands of the people,” said senior al-Wefaq official Khalil al-Marzoug.

Bahraini Parliament Speaker Khalifa Dhahrani said the talks are aimed at drawing up “common principles for the re-launch of the political reform process” with “no preconditions and no ceiling.”

The talks come after Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa called for a national dialogue on reform and announced an investigation into the handling of the uprising by Saudi-backed regime forces.

Bahrain’s main opposition leaders say authorities must end the protest-linked “show trials” and release detainees before a serious dialogue can begin.

Despite the lifting of an emergency law imposed during a violent crackdown on mass anti-government demonstrations, the Manama regime continues to try civilians in its so-called special courts.

In March, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed military forces in Bahrain to help the Manama regime crush nationwide protests.

Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the Saudi-backed crackdown on the protests in Bahrain since mid-February.

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