Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bahrain Opposition Officially Submit Demands To Government

Bahrain Opposition Officially Submit Demands To Government

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MANAMA (Dow Jones)--Bahrain's formal opposition groups officially submitted demands to the ruling Al-Khalifa family that included the introduction of a constitutional monarchy and the dissolution of the government.

The grouping of six main opposition parties, including major Shiite opposition bloc Al-Wefaq as well as secular groups, outlined its core demands at a press conference in Manama. The proposals included the release of all political prisoners, electoral reform and the formation of a new interim government, along with an independent investigation into the deaths of seven protesters since the clashes here began over a week ago.

The opposition groups said the demands represented a formal response to the Crown Prince's call for dialogue, but stressed that the opening of direct talks would depend on the government's acceptance of their framework and guaranteeing the safety of anti-government protesters.

"We want [the] regime to say that in principle they agree to [the] abolition of 2002 constitution and [a] new assembly on one man, one vote," said Ebrahim Sharif, a Sunni Muslim and former banker who heads the National Democratic Action Society, one of the groups tasked with unifying the opposition's message, adding that the ruling family must recognize "the rights of people to have [a] fully elected parliament with exclusive judicial oversight power."

However, the list of demands risk dividing the more moderate opposition grouping that has been charged with articulating the issues and the protesters encamped on the square, many of whom are calling for sweeping regime change and reject any dialogue with the ruling family.

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