Bahrain Open to Dialogue With Opposition

Bahrain Open  to Dialogue With OppositionBahrain Open  to Dialogue With Opposition

Bahraini rulers are open to dialogue with the opposition despite its boycott of elections this weekend, a cabinet minister said Friday.

“The door to dialogue will never be shut, including with Al-Wefaq,” she said in an interview with AFP, referring to the main Shia opposition movement.

Al-Wefaq and four other opposition groups are boycotting Saturday’s legislative and municipal polls in Bahrain, a key ally of Washington and home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

The opposition wants a “real” constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister independent from the ruling Al-Khalifa royal family.

But the Saudi-backed Sunni dynasty which rules over the majority Shia kingdom has rejected the demand.

Nearly four years ago the opposition led a month-long uprising calling for democratic reforms, but the protest movement was crushed by the authorities in March 2011.

The demonstrators still frequently clash with security forces in villages outside the capital Manama, although hundreds have been arrested and faced trial after the uprising.