A statement by Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society following its 2010 conference held at Gulf Air premises in Salmabad
Al-Wefaq calls on all concerned parties in Bahrain to resort to by-laws of the National Action Charter (NAC) while evaluating elements related to its conference held on 18-19 February 2010.
Amongst others, Al-Wefaq reiterates that positions undertaken by its General-Secretary and head of its parliamentary bloc, Sheikh Ali Salman, reflect understandings contained within overwhelmingly endorsed NAC. In short, Sheikh Ali called for implementation of a constitutional monarchy.
Addressing the gathering, Sheikh Ali declared “great are the goals we are trying to achieve, and many are the obstacles setting us back. The reform of the political system to achieve a real constitutional monarchy, where the monarchy belongs to Al Khalifa family and the command to the people, through an elected government, peaceful succession of power, freedom of political association and freedom of speech, is a track yet to be accomplished in Bahrain.”
Sheikh Ali went on to say that “good governance entails presence of a strong enough government subjected to people’s choices, as well as true equality amongst people with regards to rights and obligations on the basis of a true citizenship subjected to rule of law.”
Added Sheikh Ali, “the future of our country, its stability and advancement, is achieved faster and more steadily under a consensual modern constitution enacting a real separation of powers and opening the doors to peaceful succession of the executive power by way of free and impartial elections carried out in a fair, transparent and democratic manner through equally populated constituencies.”
Still, Sheikh Ali stressed that Bahrain needs to remedy two deadly diseases. The first relates to mass political naturalisation, in turn destroying the trust between the regime and the people, confiscating the employment opportunities of Bahraini nationals and compromising the quality of healthcare, housing, education and other services.
The other is the favoritism of members of the royal family over other Bahraini nationals, controlling over half of the cabinet and a large number of executive positions in committees, large companies and sport unions to members of the royal family, as well as the political discrimination and sectarianism resulting in the exclusion of certain Bahraini nationals from higher public positions.
Undoubtedly, Al-Wefaqs’ visions are inspired by article 4 of chapter 2 of NAC, which states that, “the people are the source of all authorities” and “the political system in Bahrain is a democratic one in which supremacy belongs to the people, who are sources of all power.”
The issues raised at Al-Wefaq’s general conference serve to rekindle the King’s words with respect to the matter upon the release of NAC, namely “once we are assured that it is publicly accepted, we shall ratify it and deem it a reference for our national progress and the upgrading of the state’s institutions and constitutional authorities. At each stage we shall accomplish what meets the ambitions of our citizens.”
Al-Wefaq stresses that it is neither logical nor acceptable for the authorities to speak of citizenship and equality as outlined by NAC and the constitution, without implementing the basic principles of equity and justice for all citizens. Nine years on, Bahrain still needs a serious political will to enforce the clauses and conventions of NAC.
Sheikh Ali’s Charter-inspired speech truly conveyed the patriotic spirit of Al-Wefaq and its dedication to all the visions and ambitions laid out by NAC for the future of the Kingdom of Bahrain. While emphasising its clear and solid methodology of respecting all individuals and constituents, Al-Wefaq considers the national invariants its sole criterion in all its endeavors and communiqués.
Al-Wefaq regrets participation of official government institutions in the aggressive verbal attack against the society, clearly stirred up by discredited parties known to be involved in conspiracies against national unity and political stability. This negative response indicates an enormous flaw unsuitable for the nation at large.
To be sure, Al-Wefaq’s demands are no different from official slogans. Yet, it is simply a demand to move on from ‘talking’ to actually ‘doing’ and implementing the principles of constitutional monarchies by eliminating sectarianism, enforcing will of the people and separation of powers.
In short, we emphasize on national visions and invariants derived from NAC, conveyed in the parliament and other congregations, and repeated here:
• Convey our political views and tendencies openly and publicly, we have the will and ability to speak our mind in the open. Therefore, statements made in our general conference are part of our political programme and views, in turn conforming with NAC articles.
• Show respect of all constituents of the Bahraini nation, individuals and groups by the ruling authority in the form of recognising people as source of all authorities.
• Work towards achieving a constitutional monarchy on par with established constitutional monarchies and as specified at NAC through peaceful, legal and constitutional tools.
• Conduct peaceful succession of the executive power by holding free and impartial elections carried out in a fair, transparent and democratic manner through equally populated constituencies.
Finally, the statements made in our conference, were motivated by our deep concern over the status of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and designed towards the reform and improvement of its endeavors in order for it to step up amongst advanced constitutional monarchies.
Al Wefaq National Islamic Society
23 February 2010