Thursday, June 02, 2011

Bahrain: King of Bahrain Maps out Course for Reform

SOURCE Kingdom of Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa delivered a speech this week to the Bahraini people calling for national unity and peace. King Hamad urged all Bahrainis to work with one another to bring about meaningful democratic reforms for the country. Noting that recent unrest caused a halt in the reform process, King Hamad remained determined in his commitment to democracy and was steadfast in his belief that the Kingdom of Bahrain will be a bastion of democracy for future generations of Bahrainis.

Putting Bahrain's previous reforms into context, the King reiterated that national reforms had taken root with the Charter of National Action, which he personally put forward in 2001. In the charter, the Bahraini people "decided on a new chapter of their history, calling for comprehensive modernization, a better life, the promotion of the popular representation in the process of decision making, and paving the path for Bahrainis' present as well as charting the future for generations to come."

King Hamad reaffirmed he does not intend to stray from that national promise. "Reform is the mission from which we shall not digress," he said. However, political unrest exhibited in Bahrain since February has demanded that the democratic process be revisited. Reform, "is an expression of belief and determination between us and our people," the King continued.

In hopes of delivering on those reforms, King Hamad projected that a National Dialogue starting in July and hoped that the dialogue process be one, "in which all people could participate with their vision of the future." However, the King urged that the National Dialogue, an initiative of the Crown Prince supported by the Bahraini Government, will only proceed without preconditions. After the initial offer for National Dialogue opposition groups created preconditions, including the systematic disbandment of the government, before entering into any negotiations.

As Bahrain works toward increased reforms, King Hamad appealed to the national media community saying that they will play an instrumental role in healing the "social rift" on the island nation. King Hamad urged the global press community to help tell a balanced story to maintain national unity. He noted, "The press and the media are the identity of the reform project. We will continue our support to you so that you will be able to play your national role."

King Hamad closed his remarks by reiterating Bahrain's commitment to freedom of press and expression. He said, "Our confidence in journalists and in the media is high" and that, "no one shall be harmed due to his peaceful, civilized expression of opinion."