More Bahraini opposition groups may quit reconciliation talks
Bahrain's liberal opposition Monday hinted it may quit reconciliation talks just days after the Sunni-ruled country's key Shiite opposition group, al-Wefaq, decided to withdraw, dpa reported.
Three liberal opposition groups, encompassing pan-Arabs, communists, and Baathists, said in a joint statement that none of the opposition's concerns or recommendations to ensure more political freedoms had been addressed or adopted since the talks, known as national dialogue, began on July 2.
They added that the talks would be hard to carry out amid the continued detention of political activists, an "aggressive sectarian media campaign," and failure to reinstate those who had been sacked from their jobs for allegedly taking part in pro-reform protests.
On Sunday, al-Wefaq's central committee adopted a recommendation to withdraw from the talks.
Government and "national dialogue" officials were quick to assert that despite the decision, the talks would continue.
On Sunday Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt described al-Wefaq's withdrawal as "worrying".
"A dialogue that is not truly national will just be a monologue," he said in a post on the social networking site, Twitter.
The "national dialogue" was suggested by Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, as a way to discuss reform amid a security and political crisis that has been gripping the Gulf island since protests broke out in February.
The recommendations from the month-long meetings will be presented to the monarch for review.
At least 30 people have been killed during government crackdowns on protesters, activists say.
Four policemen were also killed, according to the Interior Ministry.
Bahrain, which is the home of the US Navy 5th Fleet, and other Sunni-ruled countries in the region have accused Shiite-led Iran of meddling in the country's internal affairs.