Bahrainis Protest Dialogue, Dispersed By Police
Police used tear gas and stun grenades in Manama yesterday to break up protests organized by Shi’ite opposition groups. The Interior Ministry had previously refused to give permission for the demonstration, claiming it was illegal and promising punishment for participants. The groups called for protests in spite of their decision to participate in reconciliation talks proposed by the government. A spokesman for al Wefaq, the main opposition party, said, “Agreeing to dialogue doesn’t mean that we stop our protests.” Friday’s protests called for rejection of these government-proposed talks.
Opposition groups have voiced concerns about the talks since the government issued the invitation. Some have objected to the talks due to the government’s role as a moderator rather than a participant in them, claiming the government is the only entity that can implement any agreements regarding the parties’ demands for social and political reform. Wefaq leader Khalil al-Marzook also expressed caution regarding the credibility of the process.
A government official stated on Saturday that talks will begin next week or early in February.