News Column

Dialogue 'only way forward for Bahrain'

February 19, 2014


PUSHING forward with National Dialogue, investing in Islamic finance and Bahrain's progress were key issues discussed by London's Lord Mayor during her visit to Manama.

The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of London Alderman Fiona Woolf said talks aimed at ending Bahrain's three-year political stalemate were the only way forward.

She also lauded efforts by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, to revive the talks with members of political societies, including the opposition.

"We are very supportive of what the Crown Prince is doing and both David Cameron and William Hague have made public statements regarding the National Dialogue, reform process and directions of His Majesty King Hamad," she told the GDN yesterday.

"There are people brought here to help the Crown Prince on a number of issues on different fronts.

"This is all done in the interest of reaching an agreement that will enable all Bahrainis to move forward on the journey of growth, job creation and stability."

However, she refused to comment on whether British authorities should take action against Bahrainis inciting violence from London.

"These are very difficult areas to legislate as there is a technical body of law that assesses whether we should give asylum seekers asylum or not," she said.

"This is all decided by the courts which are independent and just apply neutral law.

"We also have freedom of speech in the UK and my role is really on economic co-operation and bilateral relations."

The GDN reported yesterday that two fugitives convicted of terror crimes by a Bahrain court used their Twitter accounts to incite citizens to use weapons and create chaos in the country over the weekend.

Opposition figures Abdulraouf Al Shayeb and Qassim Hashimi, who live in London, were sentenced to jail in absentia last year for being part of a group of 12 men who operated a terrorist cell from abroad.

The Lord Mayor, who worked in Bahrain between 1982 and 1985, also stressed the need for more collaboration between Bahrain and the UK in the development of the Islamic finance sector. "We are keen to work with Bahrain to develop and meet the needs to use Islamic banking," she added.

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Source: Gulf Daily News (Bahrain)

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