Bahrain’s main Shia opposition bloc has reiterated its demand for a government led by the parliamentary majority, in a statement released after a dispute during a national dialogue.
“The solution to the political crisis is through the acceptance of (its) demands,” and that “any other option would only deepen the crisis,” the Islamic National Accord Association (Al Wefaq) said in a statement on Tuesday.
Since the July 2 debut of the national dialogue, which is aimed at forwarding political reforms after Shia-led protests were crushed in a bloody crackdown in March, Al-Wefaq has called for a government led by the parliamentary majority.
The group won 18 of 40 seats in the most recent parliamentary elections, but its MPs resigned to protest violence against demonstrators.
On Tuesday, a Sunni representative in one of the dialogue sessions called Shias “naturalised rejectors (of Islamic orthodoxy),” in reference to the Iranian origin of some members of the community to which a majority of Bahrainis belong, the Al Wasat newspaper reported.
In reaction, Al Wefaq’s representatives walked out of the meeting, which was dealing with reforming naturalisation laws.
Naturalisation was a major issue in the February-March protests in Bahrain, where many Shias accuse the kingdom’s Sunni rulers of naturalising Sunnis in a bid to change Bahraini demographics.
Al-Wefaq said in the statement that it would, however, not be “intimidated by manoeuvres of sabotage” at the dialogue.
Shias are a majority of the population of Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty.
The bloc decided at the last minute to participate in the dialogue, encouraged by the international community, including the US, whose Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.