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Waad’s Vision for Returning to the spirit of the National Action Charter to build a civil, democratic and modern state
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2016-05-28 13:18:19




 Waad’s Vision for an Accomplished National Reconciliation

Returning to the spirit of the National Action Charter to build a civil, democratic and modern state

 

Context

 

The Arab region today is witnesses a time of much turbulence characterized by wars, belligerency and the ultimate fight over identities. This struggle has taken tribal and sectarian forms, masking the Arab world’s real fight for freedom, democracy, social justice and respect for human rights. This situation necessitates the need to rectify this path towards the more crucial national issues of the region and towards the Palestinian cause.

 

At a time like this, Bahrain, being a part of this Arab world, continues to suffer from a political and constitutional crisis spanning more than four decades. This crisis essentially began when the first popular constitution that represented the stepping stone of the transition towards democracy was put to a halt, bypassing the people’s desire to establish a parliamentary regime and to establish the very basics of a proper social contract, with little real political alternative to be seen for decades later.

 

Fifteen years after the National Action Charter, a referendum that received an unprecedented landslide vote from the Bahraini people on the 14th of February, 2001, therefore lifting Bahrain’s political reforms to the top of the agenda, the country continues to suffer from a political and constitutional crisis; its financial capital is drained and reforms are put to a halt all-together.

 

The Crown Prince’s seven-pillar initiative proposed on the 13th of March, 2011 to resolve this political and constitutional crisis was met with positive response by Waad and the country’s national democratic opposition. Indeed, the opposition has presented numerous documents and other initiative afterwards that took at their base the Crown Prince’s initiative, holding firmly those principles that unify the country and emphasizing the need to find a solution to the political crisis and its devastating consequences on human rights, on the economy and on people’s well-being.

 

Despite the political negotiations that took place in 2011, 2013 and 2014, little can be said about reaching tangible results on the ground. The public remains absent in deciding the country’s reform path that could have been put forward through a comprehensive democratic constitution and national accord.

 

Waad fully comprehends the delicacy of Bahrain’s location as the geopolitical center of the Arabian Gulf; a location that undoubtedly requires caution and attentiveness so as not to fall into the very troubles from which the region continues to suffer, therefore preserving civil peace, social stability and national security. Indeed, it is this understanding upon which Waad’s political activism operates, holding the unshakable belief in peaceful opposition, not only as a strategic choice but more importantly as the very foundation of our principles, recognizing that differences and conflict in Bahrain should be resolved through peaceful methods, denouncing and rejecting violence and terrorism, wherever it comes from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bahrain’s national unity was determined in the past in two key moments. The first was the time when all of the Bahraini people, as diverse as they are, voted for the arab nationality of Bahrain and the country’s sovereignty and independence in 1971. The second was the time when they voted yet again with unprecedented participation for the National Action Charter in 2001. This solidarity is the pillar with which we could overcome our challenges and the region’s challenges and through which we could fight sectarian conflict. Such national unity is what guarantees the preservation of the very fabric of society, of its civil peace, of its social stability, resisting any form of foreign interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs.   

 

Finally, an assessment of Bahrain’s situation could not ignore the current economic crisis, a crisis that has erupted most noticeably with the fall of oil prices, exacerbating government deficits and augmenting public debt. Such a crisis and its ensuing consequences have provoked the downgrade Bahrain’s credit rating by international agencies, remarkably increasing the burden of servicing the country’s debt in the hundreds of millions of dinars, all at a time of widespread corruption and governance deterioration.

 

Vision and roadmap

 

Our view of the situation in Bahrain highlights the importance of agreeing upon a road map towards a real and sustainable political solution. This could only be achieved through a serious dialogue that includes all parts of society and that aims at results that benefit all of Bahrain.

It is our ambition to help build a civil, democratic and modern state of Bahrain, a state that upholds international conventions and treaties of human rights, that believes in liberty, democracy and equal citizenship for all, that raises the status of women and guarantees their equality with the man, removing all reservations on treaties like CEDAW and reflecting its elements in the law and legislations of the country, therefore eradicating all forms of discrimination, exclusion and marginalization.

 

In light of all the above, and as a way to further extend and link our vision for a civil state, the Waad proposes this practical roadmap to set the environment for a national reconciliation in the spirit of the National Action Charter, ultimately building a civil, democratic and modern state that represents a comprehensive and sustainable political solution for the country. We summarize our roadmap in the following points:

 

  1. Return to the spirit of the National Action Charter that has boded a constitutional monarchy similar to that of well-established ones today, and that has stated clearly that the country’s regime is a hereditary constitutional monarchy of democratic governance, where sovereignty resides in the people, the source of all powers.

 

  1. Consider the Crown Prince’s seven-pillar initiative as the foundation upon which all dialogues and negotiations are based in order to establish a roadmap towards resolving the political crisis. This would take into consideration at the same time the documents and initiatives that have long been proposed by the opposition, which have been, as mentioned above, based on the Crown Prince’s initiative and the National Action Charter, with the purpose of reaching common views and paving the road towards a fruitful dialogue.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Facilitate the road towards the dialogue through a government-initiated political openness and security appartus relief, beginning with the release from prison of all children, women, elderly, student and the chronically-ill, as well as the release of prisoners of opinion and conscience, all the way to the real implementation of the fact-finding commission’s recommendations.

 

  1. Agree on a draft of transitional justice and national reconciliation (Waad had provided such a document in 2005 as well as during the National Dialogue of 2011).

 

  1. Agree on an accurate and detailed assessment of the economic situation and its consequences on the well-being of citizens including the ensuing social crisis, and institute serious processes to fight financial and administrative corruption in the country in a way that aids the recovery of the economy and establishes social justice. 

 

  1. Form a joint committee between the government, the opposition and the civil society organizations agreed upon by the first two, in order to inspect and review the real extent of implementing the recommendations of the fact-finding commission (the Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry (BICI)) as well as the recommendations of the International Human Rights Council, and assess the extent to which current legislations reflect the principles of the constitution and those of international conventions.

 

  1. Elicit the counsel of general local expertise as well as constitutional and legal expertise among Bahrainis (and foreigners as could be agreed upon) in order to set the building blocks for a civil, democratic and modern state. Such a process would need to benefit from the latest of human knowledge and experience, and must be followed by the establishment of the right mechanisms to put this counsel into practice, within clear timelines, adjusting local laws, such as those of the electoral system and electoral constituencies, in a way that accelerates the political solution and puts the country on the right path towards real sustainable reform and development.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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