Bahrain starts dialogue to end protests

03 July 2011

Protests continue despite beginning of reconciliation talks

The ruling Al-Khalifa family in Bahrain has started talks with opposition groups as part of a National Dialogue outlined by the king and intended to heal the rifts that have opened up in the country since protests broke out on 14 February.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has said that all options are on the table during the talks with opposition groups, which will include representatives from Al-Wefaq, the main opposition party.

The dialogue is being led by the Speaker of the Parliament, Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Dhahrani.

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa had been leading a previous attempt at all-party talks in late February, but that attempt collapsed after failing to make significant progress.

The king has also appointed an independent commission to investigate who is responsible for the violence that broke out between protesters and security forces. The commission will be headed by Cherif Bassiouni, a war crimes expert at the United Nations. Other members include British lawyer Nigel Rodley, Canada’s Philippe Kirsche, previously judge on the International Criminal Court, Mahnoush Arsanjani of the UN, and Badria al-Awadhi, a Kuwaiti lawyer.

Protests have resumed in Bahrain since the end of a state of emergency and a harsh crackdown on demonstrators on 1 June, with large clashes between protesters and security forces on 2 July.

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