Bahrain Starts Reconciliation Talks

Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 6:20 am (UTC-5)
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Bahrain's Sunni rulers launched reconciliation talks Saturday with opposition leaders, after months of anti-regime protests.

The island nation's largest Shi'ite opposition party, Wefaq, decided at the last minute to attend the so-called “national dialogue.” The party had expressed concern that a national dialogue would not be credible if the government continued to keep key opposition figures jailed.

All 18 lawmakers from the Wefaq party resigned from the 40-member lower house of parliament in March amid the government crackdown on pro-democracy protests by majority Shi'ites.

The Bahraini government has said the talks will cover politics, the economy and human rights.

Earlier this week, Bahrain's king announced that an independent commission would be formed to investigate possible rights violations during recent the demonstrations.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's said in a televised speech to the nation that Bahraini leaders respect human rights and want reform. But he said protesters pushed the Gulf nation into a “state of chaos” that led to a government backlash of arrests and trials.