Bahrain king 'supports' proposed political reforms
DUBAI - Bahrain's king said he supports proposals for political reform submitted to him on Thursday following a "national dialogue" from which the main Shiite opposition withdrew just two weeks after it began.
The report on the dialogue "reflects the determination (of the participants) to rise above the latest incidents," King Hamad said in a televised speech, referring to a month of deadly pro-democracy protests crushed by the authorities in March.
The king expressed his "support" for the recommendations that, he said, notably included "reinforcing the independence of the judicial branch and the consolidation of human rights" in Bahrain.
He also cited the development of standards for the selection of the Majlis Ash-Shura, or consultative council, whose 40 appointed members can block legislation coming out of the lower house.
King Hamad said he had given instructions for the implementation of the recommendations in "constitutional institutions" but made no reference of the withdrawal of the main Shiite opposition party, Al-Wefaq, from the dialogue.
Al-Wefaq, or the Islamic National Accord Association, announced on July 17 it was pulling out of the dialogue on reforms, saying the talks were not aimed at achieving serious results.
The talks follow a bloody March crackdown by security forces on Shiite-led protests calling for reforms in the Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority kingdom. Authorities say 24 people were killed in the unrest.